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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For those of you with real estate or property owner experience...

I have been casually looking around at waterfront real estate in the greater Pensacola/Lillian/Milton area. My interest has been in properties that are in protected water bodies with established docks (even if in disrepair) that would accommodate a larger boat. I have looked at a number of lots/houses that are located in established developments with canals or that are on inlets off the main bays. The problem with many is that, even though the canals and the interior of the inlets are deep enough for a large boat (+4 foot draft), the access to open water is most of the time (or at least at the time I'm looking) silted in to the point that it would be a challenge to get out in anything bigger than a small center console or a skiff. It is obvious that many of these at one time had better access to open water due to the scale of the docks and some even have old boats tied up that are now landlocked. I can understand that during storms the channels can get silted over but it is evident in a lot of situations that this is not a recent development due the amount of established vegetation on the channel bars.

What I've been wondering is what is a reasonable expectation for maintenance of a channel?
  • Have the environmental regs gotten to the point that it is now basically prohibited to interfere with the natural processes that could result in the channel being cut-off from the bay even for established developments?
  • Is it still possible to get a permit to maintain the channel, but the effort and cost for doing so is just too prohibitive for the affected property owners?
  • Or is it just a lack of collective will on the part of the property owners to keep it open (ie: "I can still get my boat out over the bar at high tide so the lack of a maintained channel is really not a problem far as I'm concerned").
Just curious. Thanks
 

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Here‘s where I’d start - go to the Santa Rosa County Marine Advisory meeting - I think it was probably tonight.

Request proper channel markers and dredging.

Discuss the benefit of having deeper water to improve water flow and the positive effects to the marine ecosystems.

It will be a 50/50 shot, but a shot nonetheless.
 

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Here‘s where I’d start - go to the Santa Rosa County Marine Advisory meeting - I think it was probably tonight.

Request proper channel markers and dredging.

Discuss the benefit of having deeper water to improve water flow and the positive effects to the marine ecosystems.

It will be a 50/50 shot, but a shot nonetheless.
Sounds like sage advice for a property owner. But if I read the OP correctly, he's asking for input on what is the current typical experience for those who own property on various protected waters like bayous, creeks, basins, and canals. I don't have any knowledge to share but I have been curious about this as well, so I am interested to hear any responses to folks who live in places like Jake's Bayou, Judge's Bayou, Avalon Beach (Indian Bayou), Trout Bayou, or the place with the canal system just west of the Garcon bridge in Gulf Breeze as examples.
 
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Villa Venyce has a MSBU also. My friend drafts 4' and only has trouble a few days of low low tide in the winter. But property is not cheap over there.
 

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Really depends on the neighborhood and the state. As Huntin said Polyisles has a permit that provides for maintenance dredging. Tiger Point, right across the highway cannot get permitted for dredging because of the seagrasses in the ICW; they've been trying for 20 years. That said, there are a lot of very big boats there and only a few days they can't get out. Alabama will have entirely different rules requirements than Florida. Most, if not all these manmade waterway were created a long time before permitting and dredging activity were so highly regulated. Do your homework and ask around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I had also looked at several in Alabama over around the Josephine/ Perdido Beach area where the issue doesn't appear to be as bad. It just seems like a pretty convoluted path to get to the Pass from up in there and the closer you get to OWA and The Wharf the more zeros they start tacking on to the price.:confused:
 

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For those of you with real estate or property owner experience...

I have been casually looking around at waterfront real estate in the greater Pensacola/Lillian/Milton area. My interest has been in properties that are in protected water bodies with established docks (even if in disrepair) that would accommodate a larger boat. I have looked at a number of lots/houses that are located in established developments with canals or that are on inlets off the main bays. The problem with many is that, even though the canals and the interior of the inlets are deep enough for a large boat (+4 foot draft), the access to open water is most of the time (or at least at the time I'm looking) silted in to the point that it would be a challenge to get out in anything bigger than a small center console or a skiff. It is obvious that many of these at one time had better access to open water due to the scale of the docks and some even have old boats tied up that are now landlocked. I can understand that during storms the channels can get silted over but it is evident in a lot of situations that this is not a recent development due the amount of established vegetation on the channel bars.

What I've been wondering is what is a reasonable expectation for maintenance of a channel?
  • Have the environmental regs gotten to the point that it is now basically prohibited to interfere with the natural processes that could result in the channel being cut-off from the bay even for established developments?
  • Is it still possible to get a permit to maintain the channel, but the effort and cost for doing so is just too prohibitive for the affected property owners?
  • Or is it just a lack of collective will on the part of the property owners to keep it open (ie: "I can still get my boat out over the bar at high tide so the lack of a maintained channel is really not a problem far as I'm concerned").
Just curious. Thanks
If it's a navigable waterway (which it would be) it will require a Core of Engineers permit to dredge. Sometimes the HOA for the canal properties applies for the permit, maintains the inlet to the canal, and assesses the homeowners when dredging is required. An escrow could also be used to accrue part of HOA dues to pay for dredging when required. A permit can contain a maintenance provision which allows the permitted party to do maintenance dredging without re-applying for a permit. If the HOA isn't that well organized, which is probably the case in most instances, one of the homeowners could spearhead getting the homeowners to go together to have it dredged, but that's not an easy thing to accomplish since there will always be a few homeowners who say they don't want to pay since they have a small boat and don't need it. Dredging isn't cheap, and it takes a decent dredge to accomplish moving very much sand. You will also need to have a place for the spoil. You can't dredge a wetland or underwater grass, and you can't put the spoil on either. Distance matters when pumping the slurry so the spoil has to be put fairly close to the inlet.

Sand naturally migrates from east to west, so additional dredging would have to be done every several years, but it's a lot easier to maintain the channel than it would be to get it open in the first place. Sometimes a channel can be opened with prop wash but that's more of a temporary solution since the sand just washes back into the channel pretty quickly.

The above probably explains why there are so many channels that aren't maintained. It's a pita! The upside is that it's very do-able, it just takes someone to make it happen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I presume that those COE dredge permits are not open ended and that if the channel is not maintained to the point that it becomes a wetland or grass beds become established that the permit would lapse and you would be back to the point of having to reapply for a new one? I would imagine that that would essentially be treated the same as if you were applying for a dredge permit to open a new development (ie: it ain't gonna happen under current regs)?
 

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I presume that those COE dredge permits are not open ended and that if the channel is not maintained to the point that it becomes a wetland or grass beds become established that the permit would lapse and you would be back to the point of having to reapply for a new one? I would imagine that that would essentially be treated the same as if you were applying for a dredge permit to open a new development (ie: it ain't gonna happen under current regs)?
The COE gets it's guidance from the EPA, and there were literally thousands of new regs promulgated by the EPA during the Obama administration. The Trump administration undid some of them but I don't know how many, if any, affected dredging an inlet. I know there was a provision in dredge permits for maintenance but I don't know if it was for a certain number of years, or was open ended. It might be worth a call to an engineering firm that does marine construction. They could answer your permit questions with actual facts applicable to the current regs, and might do the permit application for a reasonable fee if you ended up needing one. In any case they could tell you where you would stand if you bought property and needed to dredge. Might be helpful in making a decision on property. Just a thought.
 
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