The battle over whether New Jersey Shore homeowners should allow the state to build dunes on their property escalated last week when the mayor of Long Beach Township publicly posted the names of about 60 homeowners who have refused to sign easements to allow dunes on their land.
In the days since the names have been posted, about 20 homeowners have signed easements.
But Mayor Joe Mancini insists he’s not trying to bully the holdouts.
“We do have people that will look on the website and say, ‘Jeez, I know the X-Y-Z family, let me give them a call, see what the problem is,’” he said. “A lot of time, we’ll get a call back, [saying] they don’t understand something. And then we’ll talk to them, convert them, and away we go.”
Mancini says residents have a right to know which homeowners are delaying a project that would protect the whole community from future storm damage.
But lawyer Bill Ward says the mayor’s approach does amount to bullying.
“This is creating a mob mentality within Long Beach Township,” says Ward, who represents three of the named homeowners. “My clients take great umbrage at being singled out and put on the municipal website and [having] their name advertised as someone who’s a pariah to the community.”
Ward says his clients are worried that Long Beach will eventually want to build boardwalks or public bathrooms on the dunes. Additionally, he said, his clients are legally entitled to compensation to make up for the decreases in property values the dunes would cause.
Mancini counters the dunes are for the public good and that easements already include language that prohibits structures on the dunes.