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Longboat Key residents push for higher seawalls

Proposed new rules would allow barriers a foot and a half higher than allowed now.

Ned Jewitt remembers the first time he saw a seawall fail: “I’ll never forget it,” he said.

An old seawall at the end of a canal that abuts his home had been undercut by a dredge, Jewitt said, causing the bottom of the shoreline structure to fall into the channel.

The former Navy engineer said he’s maintained his seawall ever since, filling cracks, installing vents and plugging leaks, all on his own in the waist-deep water, just a few yards from his back door.

And for that reason, Jewitt’s 50-year-old barrier is in good shape. But there are others the Country Club Shores resident has seen in his neighborhood that are not.

“There are a lot of seawalls in the 50- to 60-year age when they have a need to be repaired or replaced,” said Planning, Zoning and Building Director Allen Parsons.

The Longboat Key Planning, Zoning and Building Department receives between five and 10 applications for rebuilding seawalls each month, according to the department. And many of those proposals to rebuild or repair a seawall include requests for increased height and or extension into the water, Parsons said.

It’s with that in mind that the department has proposed loosening its restrictions on seawall repairs and rebuilds to allow barriers a foot and a half higher than allowed now and an additional six inches of extension into the water.