NJ uses eminent domain to continue post-Sandy beach protection projects

 A woman, right, scavenges on the beach while workers labor on the new seawall construction project to protect Mantoloking, New Jersey, from the Atlantic Ocean. As the third anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaches, New Jersey says it has acquired 90 percent of the easements it needs to do shore protection work along the coast. New Jersey is beginning to exercise its power of eminent domain to secure other easements. (AP file photo)

A woman, right, scavenges on the beach while workers labor on the new seawall construction project to protect Mantoloking, New Jersey, from the Atlantic Ocean. As the third anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaches, New Jersey says it has acquired 90 percent of the easements it needs to do shore protection work along the coast. New Jersey is beginning to exercise its power of eminent domain to secure other easements. (AP file photo)

The administration of Gov. Chris Christie is using the power of eminent domain to access property at  two New Jersey homes, so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can proceed with coastal protection projects.

It’s the first use of eminent domain for such projects since Superstorm Sandy.

“The property easements we have obtained, and the easements we still seek, are vital to coastal protection efforts that benefit all New Jersey residents,” said acting Attorney General John Hoffman in a written statement.

Easements are the legal documents beachfront property owners sign giving the Army Corps access to their land.

So far the state has secured 90 percent of the 4,279 easements it requested. The Department of Environmental Protection has started using legal means to access land of the 388 holdouts.

There’s no reason to refuse granting an easement while the safety of the community is at stake, said DEP spokesman Lawrence Hanja.

“It’s very shortsighted to say, ‘Look, I don’t want a dune system because I want to be able to see the ocean.’ When the next storm hits, and your property is washed away — then what?”

The two properties are in Ship Bottom and Ocean City. Attempts to reach the homeowners were unsuccessful.

Hanja said the state will pursue the other 386 easements next.

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