Margate ends battle with N.J. over land seizure for protective dunes

    South Seaside Park dunes in August 2014. (Photo: Justin Auciello/for NewsWorks)

    South Seaside Park dunes in August 2014. (Photo: Justin Auciello/for NewsWorks)

    After a long court battle with New Jersey, Margate will not appeal a ruling that allows the state to seize oceanfront land for a federal protective dune project.

    The Press of Atlantic City reports Margate’s Board of Commissioners unanimously decided against appealing a judge’s April ruling that supported the state to seize property for the project using eminent domain, citing $314,000 already spent in legal fees plus additional taxpayer money that would be spent if the fight continued. 

    Margate argued that its wooden bulkhead was sufficient to protect it from storms. 

    State environmental regulators plan to assemble strips of privately owned beachfront land along the coast to build dunes.

    Gov. Chris Christie began pushing for a protective sand dune project along the state’s coast after Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of the shore in 2012.

    Margate has opposed the plan but says it will work to try to address drainage and handicap access issues.

    The state begin attempting to seize land at the Jersey Shore for protective dune building projects last July when authorities filed eminent domain actions against beachfront property owners that had refused to sign easements for the work. 

    Some Ocean County property owners argue that the state is abusing its powers, NewsWorks’ Joe Hernandez reported earlier this year. 

    Although the state has obtained the vast majority of easements necessary along the entire coastline, some remain outstanding. 

    “We appreciate that many property owners – clearly mindful of the destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy – have unselfishly donated easements for the greater good rather than engage the State in protracted litigation. But to those who continue to hold out, our message is that we remain committed to acquiring these easements as expeditiously as possible, and consistent with a landmark Supreme Court decision issued in 2013 – without paying windfalls at the public’s expense,” then Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said last July. 

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    The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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