A cottage on the Wequobsque Cliffs in Chilmark must be moved due to severe erosion.
The Chilmark conservation commission voted on Wednesday to allow the house owned by Marianne Goldberg on Wequobsque Lane to be moved 95 feet back from the edge of the cliff. The house now stands 20 feet from the cliff. The new location will place it 120 feet from the top of the coastal bank. The porch will be demolished and rebuilt in the new location.
A viewing deck that is 30 feet from the edge will also be removed by hand.
“We want to move everything out of the 100-foot buffer zone, clean it up and put in the new stuff down the hill,” said Mitch Gordon, a contractor for the homeowner.
He said the cliff side has lost about 16 feet in the past 18 months. He also said Ms. Goldberg has lost 30 per cent of her land since she bought it 12 years ago.
The main house on the property was relocated in the past year. This will be the third time the cottage has been moved. Built in 1950s, the cottage “used to sit out here in the middle of the ocean,” Mr. Gordon said. It was moved for the first time in the 1970s.
The move will be done by Bob Hayden of Hayden Building Movers in Marston Mills, who moved the main house, Mr. Gordon said.
The contractor described the process. The house will be jacked up on cradles and placed on two 40-foot steel beams that have been greased. Power winches with cables will be used to slowly slide the house on the beams to the eventual location of a new foundation.
At the house site, existing plumbing, septic, wiring and sonotubes will be excavated and filled in with solid packed soil. Erosion matting will be used to secure seed of grass and wildflowers until the plantings are secure.
The work is set to be done this spring.
Conservation commission member Pamela Goff asked if the house could be moved further back.
“You’re just going to have to move it again,” she said.
Mr. Gordon said he would need to consult with the owner.
Questions remain about the location of the well. “I don’t know where it is,” Mr. Gordon said. “It’s not on the [engineered] plan, and it’s not on the board of health plan, the last plan was drawn up in the 1960s.” He said surveyor Reed Silva is working on locating the well.
Mrs. Goff said if the existing well is within the 100-foot buffer zone, the project will need to return to the commission with a plan to remove it.
Mr. Gordon said a silt fence will go up around the house during the move to ensure no debris reaches the beach below.
“We’re trying to restore it as best we can,” the contractor said. “Where there’s extensive root system up there, it just falls down in bigger clumps. You have to put something down or the rain just erodes it. You do want some sort of cover. The trees don’t stop the undermining of the cliff from the edge.”
Board chairman Sandy Broyard said the commission’s chief concern was harm to the bluff during the move; she emphasized the need for a revegetation plan.
“We want to slow down erosion as much as possible and come up with a plan for planting,” Mrs. Broyard said.
Mr. Gordon said the only area that will be disturbed is the footprint of the existing house. He noted one oddity in the erosion process.
“What I’ve seen underneath the house is silt that has blown up off the cliff and it’s amazing,” he said. “The cliff is getting taller.”