A group of oceanfront homeowners in Bay Head is suing New Jersey, seeking to be exempted from a plan to build protective sand dunes along the state’s entire 127-mile coastline.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in Superior Court in Ocean County, accuses the state Department of Environmental Protection of exceeding its authority by using eminent domain condemnation proceedings to seize privately owned land for the dune project.
The homeowners say a rock wall, which they spent millions of their own money to build and maintain, is a better solution than widened beaches and sand dunes.
“We don’t think we need (an Army Corps dune) in Bay Head because we already have substantial dunes underpinned by rocks,” said Thacher Brown of Bay Head in a NewsWorks report from earlier this year. “We think the sand they pump in will just wash away, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll ever replenish again in the future.”
“The location of the rock wall/dune is such that in some areas, there is no longer a beach at high tide,” he said. “The high water line comes right up to the base of the dune, and as a result, all residents are now deprived of the use of what was once a beautiful beach.”
Gov. Chris Christie has encouraged people to knock on doors of homeowners in Bay Head and Point Pleasant Beach and ask why they haven’t signed easements to permit the work.
As of earlier this month, 239 easements remained outstanding statewide.
In June, the state filed the first condemnation actions against beachfront property owners in Ship Bottom and Ocean City that have refused to sign easements to allow the federal government to build engineered beach and dune projects.