Army Corps: Cavalier Beach Club also built unauthorized fencing and wood deck

Gold Key has planted palm trees, built fencing and wood decking without appropriate permission

The Army Corps. of Engineers says that the palm trees, black fencing, and wooden deck in this photo were all built too close to the seawall (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily)
The Cavalier Beach Club (Southside Daily)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The Cavalier Beach Club on Oceanfront, which was recently cited in a report by the Army Corps of Engineers for planting palm trees too close to the federally maintained seawall, has also built a wood deck and fencing that was not authorized by the Corps of Engineers, according to the city’s formal request for review.

On July 3, the City of Virginia Beach asked the Corps of Engineers for a “408 review,” which refers to section 408 in the federal code that governs federal flood protection projects, said Ray Dridge, who is the chief of the geo-environmental section for the Corps of Engineers in Norfolk.

A 408 review is required for permission to work within the easement of federal flood protection infrastructure.

The review will study what negative impacts, if any, the beach club’s unauthorized construction pose to the seawall, Dridge said

The Army Corps. of Engineers says that the palm trees, black fencing, and wooden deck in this photo were all built too close to the seawall (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily)
The Cavalier Beach Club (Southside Daily)

After the violations were reported by the Corps of Engineers, Gold Key|PHR, the development company which owns the Cavalier Beach Club, essentially asked for retroactive permission to build the beach club it had already constructed, Dridge said.

“An after-the-fact 408 study is rare because the Army Corps normally receives a request before a project begins,” Dridge said.

Related story: Virginia Beach city council to vote on Cavalier Hotel requests Tuesday

Gold Key also commissioned structural engineering firm Lynch Mykins to analyze the impacts of its beach club constructions on the seawall, according to a June 26 packet from Gold Key to the City of Virginia Beach.

That packet included analyses from Lynch Mykins, which sought to illustrate to the Corps of Engineers “the negligible impact that our new construction elements (fencing, wood deck, and landscape) impose to the existing infrastructure (seawall).” 

The Army Corps. of Engineers says that the palm trees, black fencing, and wooden deck in this photo were all built too close to the seawall, pictured in the lower-left (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily)
The Cavalier Beach Club (Southside Daily)

Dridge said if the Corps of Engineers approves the 408 request, they could impose more frequent inspections or ask for modifications to the construction. The Corps of Engineers is reviewing the report produced by Lynch Mykins, and contacted the firm for clarification last week.

Neither Gold Key nor Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen were immediately available for comment.

Once the Corps of Engineers hears from Lynch Mykins, it will take a few weeks to review, then submitted to Col. Jason E. Kelly, commander of the Norfolk District for the Corps of Engineer, for ultimate approval.

“We don’t arbitrarily say ‘you have to remove that right away’ if you don’t ask us first,'” Dridge said, who added the Corps of Engineers still reserves the right to make Cavalier Beach Club remove all unauthorized construction if it’s deemed hazardous to the seawall.

“But that’s the incentive for localities to follow the rules and ask permission first,” Dridge said, because if it doesn’t meet standards, “then they risk having to tear everything down.”

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