Sunday, May 14, 2006

Coastal Community Watch

A sample of how banding together WORKS! The full history of this saga (which is ongoing) is at their blog. You can click on the title above to go directly to it.

1/2
Hi Leslie,
Best Wishes from the New Year from Coastal Community Watch (http://www.coastalcommunitywatch.blogspot.com).
Our membership keeps growing and so does our list of activities.
Here's a few on-going projects:
1. We've come up with an on-line candidate's forum - sort of a one-stop-shop for voters. We gave it a dry run with the November elections in Waveland. The forum got rave reviews from both candidates and voters. We're hoping this type of site will catch on along the coast - it can be an easy and free tool for any community. Check it out: http://www.servewaveland.blogspot.com (and if any group out there is interested in starting one for their community or specific focus, we'll be glad to share ideas).
2. Along with many other groups, we participated in a national campaign to stop a change in wetlands regulations along the Mississippi Coast. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15305378/). Our own "neck of the woods" has seen a struggle with the Corp over wetlands regulation enforcement (http://coastalcommunitywatch.blogspot.com/2006/06/wetlands-red-alert.html )
3. We're closely watching an appeal before the State Supreme Court. It will decide whether developments like this one (http://www.mississippi-condos.com) are allowed to build on 1100 acres of our Hancock coastal wetlands. (http://coastalcommunitywatch.blogspot.com/2006/04/zoning-appeal.html).
4. This year we're planning a campaign for urgently needed property tax protections for Coast residents - ( http://coastalcommunitywatch.blogspot.com/2006/10/property-tax-protection.html). Please contact us if you or your group would be interested in helping.

If y ou'd like to join our group (it's free and entirely internet based, so there are no meetings or dues), just click here (http://coastalcommunitywatch.blogspot.com/2006/10/to-join-ccw.html ).
Happy New year to you all and here's to a New Coast, one where citizen activism shapes the future.

10/23
Please pass this letter along to your own mailing lists and urge your friends to keep it going. It's one chain letter that might actually do some good!

Dear Friends and Family,

Many of you around the country were moved by the loss that Katrina brought to our beloved Gulf Coast. You've helped in numerous ways - we couldn't have come as far as we have without your help. Each resident here will carry a great debt of gratitude to our graves.
Now we're asking for more help. The Corps of Engineers wants to change the way wetlands permits are regulated in South Mississippi. This MSNBC article explains the crisis: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15305378/
Anyone who watches the news is aware of how important our wetlands are for flood and wind protection during hurricanes. But they're a vital part of our economy as well. Now, in a rush to rebuild, we're being urged to make it easier for developers to fill in these irreplacable resources. If Katrina taught us anything, it's that conservation costs less than convenience.
Here on the Coast, we're working hard to recover, but it seems like each day brings new obstacles and we're all pretty tired. It's been a very long year. Don't let us lose what little we have left to short-sighted government policies. You can help with just a few simple actions.
1. Take the time and write a letter to protest this misguided attempt to "streamline" the permit process. Or you can use the sample below.
2. Send the same letter to all the addresses listed below.
3. Look up the e-mail addresses of the elected leaders in your own state (http://www.house.gov/ and http://www.senate.gov/ ) and send copies to them as well.
4. And forward this to anyone who has a heart for the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Thank you!
Ellis Anderson
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

You can use this sample letter to the Corps - just copy and paste.

To the Corp of Engineers:
This letter is in regards to the proposed change to the wetlands permitting process in Mississippi (SAM - 2006 - 2181 - JWS).
I urge you to act as stewards of this valuable resource that was entrusted to you by the citizens of the U.S. and the residents of Mississippi and leave the wetlands permitting regulations as they currently stand. I also ask that you extend the period for public comment for 30 additional days and hold at least one public hearing on the matter.
I realize that the Mobile office of the Corps is understaffed, so I'm also urging our federal elected officials to provide special aid to the Mobile Office and provide you with needed assistance to carry out responsible permitting and enforcement proceedings under current regulations.
Thank you,
Send it to all the addresses listed below, as well as to your own state's members of Congress.
Corps Public Comment:
dll-cesam-rd-pn@sam.usace.army.mil
Colonel Pete Tayor, Commander:
peter.f.taylor.col@sam.usace.army.mil
MS Department of Marine Resources:
Bill Walker - Executive Director:
bill.walker@dmr.state.ms.us
Joseph Runnels:
joseph.runnels@dmr.state.ms.us
Public Officials:
Senator Trent Lott:
cheryl_shaw@lott.senate.gov
Congressman Gene Taylor:
stephen.peranich@mail.house.gov
******************************************

To: Colonel Pete Taylor, Commander
U.S. Army Engineer District, Mobile
P.O. Box 2288Mobile, AL 36628-0001
SUBJECT: Out-of-Compliance Filling of Wetlands at Bayou Caddy,
Hancock County, Mississippi; Permit No. MS00-02528-U

Dear Colonel Taylor:

I am writing to express the grave concern of the Coastal Community Watch (CCW) on this subject. CCW is an 800+ member citizens group dedicated to monitoring development along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Documents received this week from the Mobile District have confirmed that the subject permit, executed in 2002 to fill 2.7 acres of tidal wetlands, was for the stated purpose of expanding Bayou Caddy Fisheries, a seafood business. The 2.7 acres were only recently filled, and it is now apparent that the intended purpose of the filling is to build a high-rise condominium development. The documents also stipulate that the permitted work was to have been completed by 15 May 2004, which it obviously was not.

We believe there is no question that the subject permit is invalid for the permittee’s current filling activity, both from the standpoint of its stated purpose and its lack of timeliness. We request that your office take immediate and appropriate action to revoke this permit and instruct the permittee to restore the 2.7 acres of wetlands to their original condition.

We are aware that your Regulatory Division has done some investigating into this out-of-compliance matter. We request that Mr. Frank Hubiak of your office be involved in this investigation and that the investigation include whether the permittee has complied with other aspects of his agreement, such as his mitigation plan and the installing of a pump-out facility at the 900 foot dock site on Bayou Caddy.

If the permittee wishes to pursue a new permit to fill wetlands for the purpose of a condo development, he should be required to submit such an application and have it be subjected to the normal permitting process, with opportunity for public comment.

We would appreciate a prompt response to our concerns.

Sincerely,
Robert L. Davis
Bay St. Louis, MS

Copy to:
1) Senator Trent Lott
2) Congressman Gene Taylor
3) Mississippi Department of Marine Resources
∑ Mr. Bill Walker, Executive Director
∑ Mr. Joe Runnels
∑ Mr. Vernon Asper
4) U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service

Update: 6/29 Here's a letter several of our members received in response from the Corps:

From: "Bunkley, William R SAM"
Date: June 27, 2006 1:15:23 PM CDT
Subject: Bayou Caddy

Thank you for conveying your comments and concerns regarding the on-going construction at the former Bayou Caddy Fisheries site in Waveland. The Corps is aware of the planned change of use at the site and has been in contact with the developer regarding non-compliance with the Department of the Army permit issued in 2002 for expansion of the seafood processing facility. Based upon our evaluation of the site, the wetlands that have been filled at the site do not exceed those authorized by the original permit. However, the developer has been notified that any use of the site other than construction of a seafood processing or similar facility will not be in compliance with the permit and a new permit application will be required for the alternative proposal. When submitted, the new proposal will be placed on public notice and undergo a full public interest review and reevaluation prior to rendering a permit decision.

Once again, thanks for your comments regarding the Regulatory Program.

William R. BunkleyChief, Inland Branch
Regulatory Division
Mobile District Corps of Engineers
Phone: 251-694-3780
Fax: 251-690-2660

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