State obtains more than 80% of easements for shoreline projects, seeks remainder

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

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

    New Jersey has obtained more than 80% of the easements it needs to undertake shoreline protection projects but still needs the cooperation of holdouts, state officials announced today. 

    Of the 2,850 public and private easements required, approximately 2,400 have been obtained, and “vigorous efforts” to acquire the remaining easements are ongoing. 

    In accordance with Gov. Chris Christie’s Executive Order No. 140 in September 2013, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and Department of Environmental Protection are empowered to undertake whatever actions are needed to spur a series of beach widening and engineered dunes construction projects along the New Jersey coast.

    The vast majority of easements obtained have been provided voluntarily by property owners, according to Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. 

    “The property easements we have obtained, and the easements we still seek, are vital to coastal protection efforts that benefit all New Jersey residents,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said. “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 a king’s ransom as compensation.”

    Officials say that a major reason why most of the required easements have been obtained voluntary is due to a July 2013 decision issued by the New Jersey Supreme Court, which found that homeowners subject to eminent domain proceedings in connection with public projects “are not entitled to a windfall” when there are protective benefits for their own property. 

    “Governor Christie and I have been extremely clear on this matter,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. “Sandy taught us sobering lessons about the critical need for beach and dune systems as an integral part of making New Jersey more resilient in the face of future storms and floods.”

    Planned shorefront protection projects requiring easements include:

    Beach widening and dunes construction from Great Egg Harbor to Townsend Inlet in Ocean City, Upper Township, and Sea Isle City.
    Beach widening and dune construction from Brigantine Inlet to Cape May Inlet-Absecon Island in Margate and Longport.
    Beach widening and dunes construction from Barnegat Inlet to Little Egg Inlet-Long Beach Island (Beach Haven, Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom, Surf City).
    Beach widening and dunes construction from Manasquan Inlet to Barnegat Inlet in northern Ocean County (Bayhead, Berkeley, Brick, Lavallette, Mantoloking, Point Pleasant Beach, Toms River, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park). 
    Beach widening from Sandy Hook to Barnegat Inlet Section 1 (Allenhurst, Deal, Loch Arbour and Long Branch).
    Beach widening and dunes construction along Raritan Bay at Port Monmouth (Middletown).
    Beach widening along the Delaware River coastline in Elsinboro (Oakwood Beach).
    In addition the DEP, working with the Federal Highway Authority, is proceeding with a “steel revetment” project in Mantoloking and Brick as a last line of defense in the area where the ocean breached the barrier island to create an inlet during Sandy. 

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