St. Joseph residents' concern over their eroding beachfront

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (WNDU) - Beachfront homeowners in St. Joseph are exploring their options as beach erosion and wave heights are reaching levels some say they’ve never seen before.

Beachfront properties in St. Joseph in danger from eroding beaches.

This prompted a meeting with the St. Joseph City Commission Tuesday night.

Many of these lakefront properties have a sea wall or some other form of protection from the elements. Now, their neighbors say they're planning to follow suit.

Waves crashing hard against the St. Joseph shoreline are nothing new for those who own homes on the water, but due to historically high water levels and recent storms, some residents are concerned that their properties could now be at risk.

“Because the lake is so high, the storm washed away part of my property that's just outside my back property line and left a huge amount of damage,” beachfront property owner Gary Lulenski said.

Lulenski says he's taking action after the city granted a permit to put up temporary protective barriers on the city property between his home and the water.

“I'm almost certainly going to have to have an interlocking steel protective border,” Lulenski said.

Some of these homeowners say they're glad they put up sea walls years ago before the water levels came back up.

One of them told me just how high it's gotten in the past year.

“At this point last year it was about the middle of the pilings, or the middle of that jetty out there,” said beachfront property owner Marlene Peterson-Ecio.

Another idea discussed at Tuesday night’s meeting was a way to slow down big waves before they reached shore.

“As people have used already, installing these large boulders along the shoreline at a triangular shape so that the high water storm's energy can be absorbed by the boulders, and then the water can escape back and save the existing bluff,” said St. Joseph Mayor Mike Gary.

Until those barriers are built, these homeowners will continue to battle the rising waves.

Mayor Gary says the homeowners will be financially responsible for any barrier they build.