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Cleanup Efforts on Island Houses Present Challenges

One resident feeling pressure, he says, to sign easements for beach dunes so he can clean his property.

Brant Beach resident Armando Rienzi just wants to clean his house.

Like many on Long Beach Island, Rienzi has several feet of sand in his first-floor garage, and a lot of work to do before his oceanfront home can be restored to its former pre-Sandy glory.

But unlike a lot of LBI residents, Rienzi is among a group of what he says are about 200 people who have not signed off on easements that island officials say they need to sign before federal tax dollars can be allocated for beach replenishment projects there. Just this week, New Jersey Congressmen Jon Runyan and others requested federal funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue these beach replenishment projects.

Yesterday, when Rienzi's contractor, John Stancati, asked about whether they could move the sand from Rienzi's home back toward the beach - so they can begin work on the house - they were asked if Rienzi had signed off on the easement.

When they were told no, Stancati and another contractor were told by a township employee that Rienzi could sign off on the easement, and begin work on moving the sand back toward the beach. If he did not sign, according to the township employee, he must first submit a dune restoration plan before moving the sand on his property. 

Asked about the exchange, Mayor James Mancini told Patch that the township addressed the easement because before township officials could determine if the sand could be moved back on to the beach, they needed someone to check on it. To do that, they would need to access the property. Officials on LBI are asking that only "clean and pristine" sand end up being taken for recovery.

Rienzi, and his attorney, Kenneth A. Porro, of the law firm, Wells, Jaworski and Liebman felt the easement question was one way to convince Rienzi and others to sign the easement.

"Why does someone who signs the easement can just place the sand on the beach, versus someone who doesn't and wants to place the sand just on his own property. It doesn't make sense," Porro said.

Porro represents a number of oceanfront property owners in the township that claim that 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.

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 Agency (FEMA).

In the wake of Sandy, state officials have alleviated lengthy permitting requirements that normally come with dune restoration projects.

Mancini noted that contractors who are hired to remove sand or are removing sand themselves 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.

Keith Kennedy November 21, 2012 at 12:21 PM
After the storm and the devastation it caused to the island... I can not believe these people are still arguing against easement. I also can not believe the 374,000 judgement, what a joke, when will people stop thinking about themselves and think about the greater good ... Truly Unbelievable.
Jean ragone November 21, 2012 at 01:42 PM
I live in Harvey Cedars year round. We were appalled by all the easement cases and they monies awarded by the courts. I am not oceanfront but I lost substantial ocean views due to the dune replenishment. Suing the township (in effect taking money out of my neighbors pocket) was never a consideration. My oceanfront neighbor was not thrilled about the new view from their lower deck but they were willing to give up some view to preserve their property. The sales price of several oceanfront homes in my neighborhood did not seem to be substantially effected by the dune replenishment alone. The sole purpose of the dune easement is to allow access for sand replenishment. The dune replenishment does benefit the island as a whole, but u cannot convince me that the oceanfront homes did not receive a greater benefit than the rest of us.
Scott November 21, 2012 at 03:15 PM
I have a house in Loveladies on the bay side and after seeing the destruction that was done from hurricane Sandy on the beach side blows my mind that North Beach residents are still having an issue signing easement agreements right now. North Beach residents and other say there property values drop because of the dune protection! Are the owners in North Beach with reality of life or are they just thinking about themselves? First of all all property values dropped over the last 4 years from the housing crises and now after this hurricane you really think any buyers would buy on an ocean side after seeing what happened in North Beach and other areas without dune protection ???? Wake up already and sign the agreements and do the right think for LBI already it's a fact the dune protection works and just witnessing Harvey Cedars where 99 percent of all ocean fronts had no damage because of the dune protection in place there so sign the agreements and stop with the future of LBI what needs to be done to preserve what's left already sign.
JefeDeJefe November 21, 2012 at 03:32 PM
I'd be embarassed to be complaining, like Mr. Rienzi, about easements when many fellow islanders lost their homes in Holgate due to a dune breeching.
M A November 21, 2012 at 04:54 PM
I'll tell you what doesn't make sense! Are you kidding me.
sue easley November 21, 2012 at 08:48 PM
It's hard to feel any sympathy for Mr. Rienzi and his ilk.
jzgirl November 24, 2012 at 01:16 PM
I live in Harvey Cedars on the bay. We sustained very little damage and I can say it is due to the dunes. As I drove through North Beach, I was appalled at the destruction. Replenish the beaches all along LBI, no exceptions. This is for the common good, not just the ocean front properties. Oh, and the Karan's should donate that money to help the Sandy victims.
Joe November 26, 2012 at 04:28 PM
I wonder if the Karan's of Harvey Cedars house was saved thanks to the dunes that ruined their view. If so, I hope they'll make a substantial donation to the entity that they sued.
Jon December 03, 2012 at 06:41 PM
This isn't about the views---it's about the right to access to the beach that is required when you agree to replenishment. Guys like Rienzi don't want the "unwashed masses" sitting on blankets in front of their homes. Beaches are public in New Jersey---but he wants the beach to himself. He'll have views from his substantial upper decks irrespective of the dunes--he just doesn't want to see any people on "his" beach.
Christine December 03, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I own an oceanfront home in Harvey Cedars. Four years ago my husband was one of the people who led the charge to obtain signed easements so that beach replenishment could be completed. We supported beach replenishment then and we continue to support it now. The fact is during Sandy our house, and many others, including the Karan's, were spared because of the substantial dunes that were in place. If Sandy taught us anything it is that we should stop arguing the merits of beach replenishment.

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