An Ocean County jury has awarded a Harvey Cedars couple a mere $300 for a beach replenishment and dune easement at their oceanfront home.
It is a decision that state officials say affirms an earlier case out of the Long Beach Island resort community that found the storm protection benefit to those individual owners outweighs their claims to loss of ocean views and other values.
In a four-day trial in Toms River, Harvey Cedars residents Victor and Carolyn Groisser argued an easement that borough officials obtained through eminent domain was worth about $200,000 — and that they were justified in seeking more than $600,000 in damages.
But jurors sitting with Superior Court Judge David Millard decided Friday that under standards set in the first Harvey Cedars case, the $600,000 claim was really worth just $300, acting state Attorney General John J. Hoffman said in announcing the verdict Monday. He called it “an important legal win for the state’s beachfront protection efforts.”
The decision adds momentum to the state’s campaign to obtain oceanfront property easements so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can proceed with widening beaches and building engineered dunes to protect beach towns from storm waves.
The state Department of Environmental Protection sided with Harvey Cedars in the Groisser case, and in recent months the DEP saw other holdouts agrees to easements — notably Ocean Beach and other cottage colonies in Toms River, where township officials mediated a settlement.