St. Ann’s Church is looking to replace an early 1900s sea wall that has seen damage in recent storms and discovered during a survey that part of the property is owned by the town, as outlined, so has asked the town for an easement.  Voters will decide on the easement in June. Town of Kennebunkport image

KENNEBUNKPORT – A December storm punched holes in the sea wall that surrounds St Ann’s Episcopal Church and that, along with other related damage is prompting church officials to replace it.

Engineer William Walsh, who is designing a replacement wall, appeared before the Kennebunkport Board of Selectmen on Thursday, March 23, seeking a municipal easement because it was discovered during a survey that the town owns a small portion of the property.

“The boundary plan shows that easterly of the church structure, the existing sea wall extends off the church property onto land that is owned by the (town),” said Walsh in a letter to the board.

The wall is masonry and rock that was probably pulled off the beach, Walsh told selectmen. “Salt water works on that masonry wall … this wall really isn’t sufficient to handle the storms we see today,” he said.

The church is proposing to replace the existing wall structure with a concrete wall, reinforced with rebar, with a masonry veneer.

Walsh explained the new wall would keep the same footprint, but would be strengthened and raised higher than it is today.


Besides holes in the wall and the erosion of the masonry itself, he said the patio and a granite bench were both significantly damaged in recent storms.

“If the easement is granted – and I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be – who is responsible for the Department of Environmental Protection permits,” asked selectman Mike Weston. “Does the town have to participate in the application?”

Walsh indicated the church would be responsible for DEP permitting, as well as appearing before the Kennebunkport Planning Board.

“Can the town just give them permission to fix the sea wall,” asked selectman Allen Daggett.

Town Manager Laurie Smith said it could, but not a permanent license to do so.

Walsh said once the wall is constructed, the church would want to be able to get in to maintain it on a regular basis,  and so is looking for an easement. Walsh said another issue is access, so they would  like to approach the site with equipment from Ocean Avenue across Old Fort Beach near the air monitoring station, and are seeking an easement to do so.  He said there is no other way in except through a wetland, which would not likely be approved.

Smith pointed out the matter would have to go to a town meeting vote.

“I do not think (approval) will be an issue,” said board chair Ed Hutchins. “It really is to protect the back side of that church.”

Weston motioned for the question be put on the ballot for voters in June, and the vote was unanimous.

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