Severe Erosion Prompts Emergency Condemnation Of Nantucket Beach House

Jason Graziadei •

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The home at 21 Sheep Pond Road, pictured here on Tuesday afternoon.

Severe erosion on the west end of Nantucket has undercut a beach house on Sheep Pond Road, prompting the town’s Health Department to issue an emergency condemnation order.

The house at 21 Sheep Pond Road is now fully exposed to the surf after 35 feet of the dune was lost to the waves in just the past eight months. A recent storm undercut the southeast corner of the home, causing the deck to collapse into the sand.

On Thursday, the Board of Health will formally vote to ratify health inspector Kathy LaFavre’s decision to issue the emergency condemnation order.

In LaFavre’s letter to the owners of the property - George and Marie Frazza, of New York City - she wrote that “the dwelling’s decking is hanging over the embankment and is falling on the beach, there is no electricity, water or septic service to the dwelling..” which are violations of the state sanitary code. The Frazzas were ordered to begin removing the deck, all septic components, and to begin the process of abandoning the property.

Morgan Sayle, the town’s coastal resources technician, inspected the property on June 30th and reported that there had been a loss of approximately 35 feet of dune since the last measurement occurred in November 2022.

“Erosion has entirely exposed most of the seaward facing side of the structure’s foundation and collapsed the deck on the beach,” Sayle wrote. “The septic system appears to be exposed.” Sayle recommended the dwelling and its associated infrastructure be removed as soon as possible.

The Frazzas have owned the property since 1995 when they purchased it for $557,500. The 2,300-square-foot home was built in 1976, according to property records.

We have reached out to the Frazzas for comment and will update this story if and when we hear back from them.

Sheep Pond Road has been an erosion hotspot on Nantucket for many years, with numerous homes having succumbed to erosion. Nearly 13 years ago, the late Gene Ratner lost his long battle with the waves when his home at 19 Sheep Pond Road collapsed into the ocean. Today, the entirety of Ratner's property is now submerged.

The town has been working for years with private landowners in the area to move the road and preserve access to the homes in the area. Earlier this month, the Select Board met in an executive session to review a new memorandum of agreement with the Nantucket Conservation Foundation to establish an alternative access for Sheep Pond Road due to the ongoing erosion. If approved, the plan will be for the town to construct the road, after which the Conservation Foundation will own the road and then grant easements to abutting property owners.

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This 2007 satellite photo from the town's GIS database shows the extensive shoreline in front of the property at 21 Sheep Pond Road, outlined in green, with many yards of coastal bluff.
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