Oak Island is likely close to receiving permission from environmental regulators for a major sand project this winter, a consulting engineer told Town Council Tuesday. The town is also expected to soon receive standing permission to dredge Lockwood Folly Inlet to its federally authorized depth, said Johnny Martin of the Moffatt & Nichol firm.

This winter’s work will place sand beginning roughly where the July 2018 harbor maintenance project ended – SE 63rd Street – to somewhere around SE 19th Street, Martin said. It will build what he called a “25-year dune,” roughly seven feet tall (13 to 15-feet above mean sea level). Most of the landward side of the dune will be planted with sea oats or beach grasses.

The project has two “add on” optional extensions that could be exercised, depending on permits, budgets and the flexibility of the contractor. The basic contract will place about 860,000 cubic yards of sand. For comparison, a typical dump truck holds about 10 yards.

The project hinges in part on receiving environmental permits, but engineers are proceeding on multiple fronts. They have put the project out for bids and expect to have an opening on November 26. Permits are expected by mid-December and construction should begin in February 2020, Martin said.

The current project will cost $11-million to $12-million. The town has received $3.2-million from the state and expects as much as $2.5-million more. Oak Island also has requested $8.2-million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but the timeline on reimbursement for those post-Florence payments – if any – is unclear, Martin said.

Next winter’s work is expected to cover areas to the west, he said.

Martin said the town had received $3.1-million for post-Florence work that would be done in the winter of 2020-21. Oak Island will learn in March 2020 whether it will receive another $4.5-million from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Later this month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredge Merritt is expected to work on the Lockwood Folly Inlet. Oak Island and Holden Beach will each contribute $37,000 toward the project while Brunswick County has agreed to pay $75,000 toward the total cost of $440,000. The state’s shallow draft inlet fund will pick up the balance.

That work will toss the sand to the edges of the inlet and not place it on beaches.

Moffatt & Nichol is continuing to investigate long-term, major sources for sand. Currently the most promising are areas around Frying Pan Shoals, Martin said.

In other business, council:

Approved basic standards for community gardens, based on a Planning Board recommendation.

Agreed to a Planning Board recommendation regulating animated signage. Such signs may not change their messages more often than every 15 seconds or be located within 200 feet of a traffic signal. Owners will have six months to comply.

Took no action on a Planning Board recommendation to reduce side-yard setbacks for accessory structures in adjoining lots in the CB community business zones.

Agreed to allow monument signs as large as 30 square feet on the mainland, on a 4-1 vote with John Bach dissenting. Bach said he was concerned with setting separate standards for the island and mainland. A representative of the Pine Forest development said that 30 square feet is smaller than a single sheet of standard plywood and that Brunswick County allows such signs up to 64 square feet.