Appeals Court Rules Against Oceanfront Homeowners in Easement Case

Jun 28, 2017

An appeals court has ruled against oceanfront homeowners on Long Beach Island and elsewhere in New Jersey,who sued over the state’s taking of perpetual easements to allow beach replenishment to proceed. The opinion not only affirms the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection’s authority to condemn private property for shore protection purposes, but also maintains that “the easements that allow for publicly funded beachfill projects can include public access and use.”

Beach restoration is a joint enterprise of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the DEP, and as per the entities’ agreement, the DEP must obtain all necessary property interests before the Corps will begin construction.

William Ward of Carlin & Ward Attorneys at Law represents six sets of homeowners involved in the case, all homeowners in North Beach and Loveladies. He said Monday that he would soon discuss the recent opinion with his clients, along with the attorneys of the other property owners, to decide whether to appeal the decision.

“We think there are appealable issues,” said Ward, particularly in regard to the public access to the beaches.

New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel, meanwhile, commented in response to the ruling, “It is important that the court sided with the environment to protect Long Beach Island with dunes. … This project is in the public good.

“Dunes are vitally important to the coast of New Jersey. They protect against beach erosion; provide habitats for all types of species; and, just as important, protect property from storms and storm surges,” he added. “The beach replenishment and dunes project is not going to solve all our problems, but it is a step in the right direction.”

Contractor Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. completed beachfill operations in Holgate in late November, marking the conclusion of initial construction of LBI’s dune and berm system. The entire project area is now eligible for the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies program, under which the beaches of Surf City, Harvey Cedars and a portion of Brant Beach will be repaired later this year. —J.K.-H.

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