Sandy Doesn't Change Attitudes About Dune Lawsuit, Attorney Says
Attorney for Long Beach Township residents: 'These walls of sand ended up within homes and upon streets blocks away from the ocean beach area.'
In the days following Sandy, officials on Long Beach Island scrambled to rebuild the dunes that took a beating during the storm, before another storm - which hit the following week - could do more damage.
Long Beach Township Commissioner Joseph Lattanzi told Patch, right before the second storm - a nor'easter that brought snow and rain - hit the Island, that rebuilding the dunes was a "top priority." Officials across the island worked with the Army Corps of Engineer to truck in thousands of tons of sand.
In a press conference the same day the nor'easter hit the Island, Gov. Chris Christie noted: "The towns [on LBI] that had beach replenishment, did much better than towns who didn't have beach replenishment."
Despite these endorsements of the Corps' dune restoration project, an attorney representing some of the Island residents told Patch yesterday that Sandy does not change his client's view of their lawsuit against Island officials over the project. The now-years-long row between a few residents and their municipal government is over easements they are required to sign before federal tax dollars can be allocated for beach replenishment projects in various sections of Long Beach Township.
”My clients are not against a reasonable and practical sand dune project,” said Kenneth A. Porro, of the law firm, Wells, Jaworski and Liebman. "The answer is a spirit of compromise, which respects oceanfront property owners’ constitutional and civil rights versus the public perception that a wall of sand is going to protect one against a hurricane or significant storms ... These walls of sand ended up within homes and upon streets blocks away from the ocean beach area."
Porro's clients claim granting the permanent easements – and thus, permission to go forward with a beach replenishment project – could lower their property values since their view of the ocean could be diminished by higher dunes and easements through their property.
Taking the small amount of land that would make up the easement through eminent domain was the path decided upon by Harvey Cedars, but what seemed to be a solution against the holdout homeowners was tempered by a March decision in state court.
An appeals court upheld a jury award of $374,000 to Harvey and Phyllis Karan, Harvey Cedars residents who sued that town, claiming their property value was lowered due to their view being diminished since the dunes and beach were larger. Harvey Cedars argued unsuccessfully in state court that the improved sand dunes provided an extra benefit to oceanfront homeowners, whose property would be most-protected by them.
Porro said the court has ruled in favor of residents like the Karans because the dunes protect the island as a whole rather than specific properties. "The issue is not about the dunes. It is about the easements, and about what they can build on those easements, boardwalks, bathrooms, and anything else."
Dune restoration work is one of the many expenditures for which the township can be expected to be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agenca (FEMA).
In the wake of Sandy, state officials have alleviated lengthy permitting requirements that normally come with dune restoration projects.
Regardless, officials on LBI are asking that only "clean and pristine" sand end up being taken for recovery.
Holgate residents that hired contractors to remove sand or are removing sand themselves are also advised that only clean and pristine sand should be taken to the Holgate lot (end of Holgate) where it will be recovered. Residents on the North end (North Beach/Loveladies) can take clean and pristine sand to Tract 1065 (North Beach) and residents of Loveladies can take their clean sand to either Tract 55 or Coast Ave or place it on the beachfront of their legally owned Tract, where it will be recovered.
Residents who have sand with debris must call Long Beach Public Works to coordinate removal. The number is 361-1000 x 349.