ST. JOSEPH — The city of St. Joseph has reached an agreement with two property owners to place long-term shoreline erosion protections on public land, and they hope that it will provide a blueprint for other residents along the lake.

“I think they’re doing the right thing,” Jack Sanderson, of 810 Lake Lane, said Friday after coming to an agreement with city officials for placement of a rock wall adjacent to his lot along Lake Michigan. He will undertake the project with the owners of the property at 204 Park St.

Sanderson and others, who have been threatened by high water and waves this fall, had sought permission to place temporary barriers against further erosion on the city-owned beach, while a permanent solution was sought. Some of the property owners balked at recommended provisions that required that they remove a temporary structure within a year.

The new agreement allows the residents to place the permanent erosion controls along the city right of way, with the approval of the city engineer. Once the engineer has inspected and approved the structure, the property owner will transfer ownership to the city.

If maintenance is required, who should pay for it will be addressed at that time.

City commissioners were close to an agreement on Monday, and called a special meeting to give final approval.

Sanderson, who has seen several feet of bluff washed away since September, has contracted with a shoreline engineer to design the barrier, but isn’t sure how soon work can begin because of the high demand for these services along the lakeshore.

The rocks could be stockpiled along the shore, providing some measure of protection, Sanderson said.

How much rock are we talking about? Sanderson said 66 feet of armor stone weighs around 500 tons.

City Manager John Hodgson said other property owners, from Park Street to Lions Beach Park, are considering their options. Commissioners gave the city manager authority to execute other agreements with residents as they are received. The documents will be sent to residents and posted on the city website.

A coastal study conducted in 2017 recommended that a uniform approach be taken to erected shoreline protections, to avoid worsening the problem.

The agreement requires that any structures avoid blocking the public right of way along the beach as much as possible. High water has covered much of that surface, and strong waves frequently make it impassable.

Sanderson said he expects that property owners will adopt the agreement all along the beach.

Contact:, 932-0360, Twitter: @HPMatuszak