OCEAN ISLE BEACH — It could take more than a year for a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ approval of a terminal groin project to be resolved, the Wilmington StarNews reported Wednesday.
A project started about five years ago to install a terminal groin on the east end of Ocean Isle Beach ground to a halt in August when a lawsuit filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center alleged that the Corps’ analysis of the project was “biased” in favor of the terminal groin project, said Geoff Gisler, senior attorney with the law center. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Audubon North Carolina, which Gisler said is concerned with how the terminal groin would impact birds’ natural habitat on the east end of the island.
Installation of the terminal groin was set to begin this fall as an effort to protect homes on the east end, several of which are fighting rising water levels with sandbags.
The town has hired the law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP to represent it in the lawsuit.
Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith said putting off the terminal groin project is going to make homes on the east end more vulnerable.
Gisler said the lawsuit’s main objective is to show that the Corps “broke the law” when it issued the terminal groin permit and the Corps will have to go back and do an analysis.