Plans are underway to relocate a large house on Wasque Point that is threatened by a rapidly eroding shoreline.
The bluff on Richard and Jennifer Schifter’s Chappaquiddick property has been eroding at a rate that coastal geologists call alarming and unprecedented. Despite emergency measures to stanch the damage, the ocean is coming ever closer to the Schifters’ 8,800-square-foot house.
“The next step, now we are looking into relocating the house,” George Sourati, an engineer with Sourati Engineering Group, said this week. Since March, about 60 feet of coastline has been lost, he said, and an additional 10 feet since Hurricane Sandy.
Mr. Sourati said the Schifters are looking to purchase a neighboring property owned by the Leland family, where the home could be moved. While details of the plan have yet to be fully fleshed out, Mr. Sourati said the relocation plan could require moving the Leland house as well.
The process will likely take place sometime in the spring, Mr. Sourati told the Edgartown planning board in an informal update this week. A company from off-Island that specializes in house moves will be hired to move the house, the engineer told the planning board.
As of late September, the Schifter house stood about 100 feet from the bluff. A potential spot for relocation would put the house about 350 feet away from the bluff as it stands today.
The current plan calls for moving the entire house in one piece, Mr. Sourati said. Other structures, including a guest house and a garage, would also be moved, he said, and the swimming pool would be removed and rebuilt elsewhere.
The process, including underpinning and moving the house, is expected to take about three months.
Mr. Sourati told the Gazette Wednesday that further information will be available soon, with two groups working on coastal evaluations of the property to determine future erosion rates. Once permits and the engineering of the house move is figured out, a date will be set for the project, he said.
The house move will require permits from the town conservation commission and the planning board. The house is located in the Cape Pogue district of critical planning concern and also the coastal district, overlay planning districts accompanied by special regulations.
The fate of the house has captured the interest of Islanders this fall. In September, the Edgartown conservation commission approved emergency stabilization for the bluff. Reports by a coastal geologist said the erosion was unprecedented, with about .87 feet of bank lost per day.
In applying for the emergency order, coastal geologist W. Sterling Wall said the cause of the erosion is the 2007 breach in the Norton Point barrier beach during an April northeaster.
If and when the breach is closed, sand will be restored to the beach and the rate of loss will diminish, Mr. Wall said at the time, but that timeline is unpredictable.
The original emergency plan called for a coir log coastal bank protection system, with up to 320 feet of linear coconut fiber (coir) logs, tied together and anchored into the bank.
But in late Octoberengineers were back before the conservation commission saying this plan of action did not work, with the coir logs failing in the face of rough surf.
The next emergency course of action approved by the conservation commission was coir envelopes — coir netting filled with sand and pushed into envelopes of sand three feet high by 20 feet long. The envelopes weigh 2,700 pounds.
Mr. Sourati said yesterday that construction of the coir envelopes is almost completed.
On Tuesday, planning board members gathered around to look at pictures of the erosion and a map of the property, peppering Mr. Sourati with questions about the process.
“It’s pretty scary to look at that bluff just falling off,” planning board member Michael McCourt said.
Mr. Sourati said he would be back with further plans to relocate the house.
“Can’t wait,” planning board chairman Robert Cavallo said.