Coastal Management Issues


A review of the Coastal Zone Management Act, as amended through 1996 and first enacted by the United States Congress in 1972, appears on the surface to be designed to mitigate adverse conditions that occur along coastal zones of the Oceans and the Great Lakes. On closer examination it many times does just the opposite in that it restricts residential development and the 5th amendment right to own and protect property.

For example, some language used in the Act is frightening:

  • Attaining increased opportunities for public access
  • Coasts are extremely vulnerable to destruction by man's alterations
  • Define what shall constitute permissible land and water uses within a specific coastal zone
  • Special natural and scenic characteristics are being damaged by ill-planned development that threatens these values
  • Identify means by which the State proposes to exert control over land and water uses
  • The act is intended to encourage the States to exercise their full authority over lands and waters in the coastal zones
  • Procedures to assess, consider, and control cumulative and secondary impacts of coastal growth and development, including the collective effect of various individual uses or activities on coastal resources

In exercising their authority, the States tend to restrict and limit the use of private property to the point where it's value is decreased or use becomes impractical. A case in point can be seen in detail at the link to the Ohio Lake Front Group. Here, the State of Ohio took land, invalided the deed, and then forced the owner to lease the land back, especially under shore protection structures.

When property rights are threatened, the enforcing agency is always careful not to render the parcel totally worthless which could then be effectively challenged under the 5th amendment rights clause to the U.S. constitution.

Increasingly, coastal management decisions are becoming more oppressive and are aimed at eliminating development and redevelopment in high-hazard areas and managing development in other hazardous coastal areas.

This is an insidious imposition that threatens the constitutional rights to parcels of coastal property that in some cases have been held by the same family for generations.

Every Great Lakes State except Indiana and Illinois have subscribed to the provisions of the act and the GLC now has political strategy in place to keep informed of plans that will probably come from the legislature through the Department of Natural Resources [DNR] to the vulnerable coastal property owner. Indiana has a short coastline and the Illinois shoreline is also short, but is mostly publicly owned which differentiates them from other Great Lakes states.

The International Great Lakes Coalition understands the need for corporate planning and rules to maintain the desirable quality of life on the beautiful shorelines, but is committed to aggressively resist any attempt to enforce unreasonable logic that threatens reasonable use of private property.

Damage potential study conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers predicts that 3% 0f 87,000 coastal homes on the United States side of the Great Lakes will be destroyed by erosion in the next 50 years.

The H. John Heinz III Center was contracted to develop a formula for calculating the value of these potential losses to individuals. A key factor in the calculations is the average life of a residential structure that is usually estimated to be 200 years. The Corps is inserting 60 years instead of 200, which results in a calculated value of only $76,000.00 for each individual home.

When challenged, they tell us that the low average age considers the high depreciation rate. This seems to be so far from right that we suggested that the real reason is to end up with a low loss figure when the 2600 potential losses are considered. Actually most coastal Realtors will tell you that shoreline property value is escalating so fast that they can hardly keep up with it.

This is could be another case of the Corps predetermining a future result by plugging in their favorite number. The Great Lakes Coalition thinks they should do the right thing for the Americans involved. If you agree, by all means tell your Congressman.