VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - A Virginia Beach man is fighting mother nature and the city to to save his backyard from erosion.
Strong storms and surges from the Chesapeake Bay have eroded more than half of Shelton Wetherinton's backyard.
Wetherington wants to build a bulkhead to serve as a buffer between his home and the bay, but the city won't let him.
Wetherington moved to Chesapeake Beach during the 1980s and remembers being able to walk out on large backyard and have romantic dinners with his wife. Years later, he has little land left in his backyard.
"I enjoyed it and I took care of it. It was a little piece of paradise," Wetherington said.
Most of his paradise has eroded and is part of the Chesapeake Bay.
"Now every time we have a storm here it's scary. It's kind of lost it's luster a little bit," Wetherington said.
For more than 20 years, Wetherington has tried several things to save the rest of his land from washing away, even using Christmas trees as a buffer.
"The Christmas trees catch a lot of sand when the wind blows but when you get a big storm you come out here the next day they're gone," Wetherington said.
The trees are a short-term fix, but Wetherington wants a long-term solution.
He and his neighbor requested a permit to build a bulkhead to act as a buffer between their property and the bay. All they have to do is build onto an existing bulkhead right next door.
Their request was denied by the Wetlands Advisory Board. The board is concerned the bulkhead would further erode Chesapeake Beach.
"It's a shame to see all this pristine property wash away, because we have a chance to fix it," Wetherington said.
Three other neighbors have bulkheads because they were grandfathered in under an old set of coastal zone rules.
The Virginia Beach Legislative Agenda shows that Councilman Bill DeSteph is supporting legislation to give residents on Chesapeake Beach the same bulkhead exemptions as residents in Sandbridge, giving Wetherington a glimmer of hope.
"I've always got a little hope, because one day common sense, compassion and understanding of what is going on here will surface. Then we'll get a resolution," Wetherington said.
Some of Wetherington's neighbors have built toe walls near their property to protect them from erosion, but Wetherington said his erosion damage is too extensive for that to work.
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