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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.

Angela November 16, 2012 at 12:51 PM
No dune replenishment=no govt help after a storm. That is how it should be. You want to build right there on the ocean then you take the chance. I am a Jersey girl and I love the ocean, but wasn't this a lesson in too much development on these barrier islands?!?
JefeDeJefe November 16, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Quite simple: Those who won't agree to "easements ...to sign before federal tax dollars can be allocated for beach replenishment projects in various sections of Long Beach Township" shouldn't be allowed to rebuild or repair their homes from storm damage. They are selfish and short sided. They should be responsible financially for damaged homes in their immediate area as a result of their refusal to protect the island. As a Holgate resident I see first hand the effects of a breeched dune.
Patricia Burns November 16, 2012 at 06:13 PM
As a 59 year resident of Long Beach Island, having been thru the March '62 storm and "Sandy, 2012" my eyewitness to the devastation of the island as a result of NO Beach Replenishment proves that the whole island is in danger, NOT just beachfront owners! How does that make me and my neighbors feel, ANGER that they think "a boardwalk, bathrooms, etc.", could be built is preposterous! LBI is a sort of a sandbar that has been developed for God sake! Do they want a "Tucker's Island" situation? Well, we are headed in that direction! Where the beach was replenished the dunes held out and did their job. Surf City's 15th and 16th street area is prime example. You can't stop the force of water. The island was breached in the same places as it was breached in 1962. Wake up people, not signing the easements puts all of us in danger. If you want "ocean views" on your 1st floor, raise your house!! Maybe the residents, including myself, should sue those oceanfront part-time residents for endangering our properties.
judith matlack November 16, 2012 at 07:36 PM
If the sand dunes were not in place-we would not have a home left. As it is they saved our home. The responsibility to clean them out of our front yard is ours-and we are grateful to do it.
Holgate Owner November 16, 2012 at 07:49 PM
The people "holding out" on this easement are ridiculous, The destruction that this storm caused would more than likely been much much less had they signed. We should all stand together and protect our beloved beaches. I pray that these people come to their God given senses and sign. Without the beaches, there would be no view... and without the reinforced dunes there would be no homes after such a severe storm as we had! My family and I put a ton of money into our home and want to be able to have it years from now for our children to enjoy. I am not rich by ANY means but I think it is totally unfair that a few people get to make the decision that will effect my property. Sure we take a chance owning property on an island, but I am NOT on the beach, only at the mercy of the Beach front property owners. This has to be resolved for the betterment of the island's businesses and property owners.
jane manzo November 16, 2012 at 09:44 PM
I hope that homeowners who have suffered damage in the towns where beach replenishment was blocked are planning on suing those homeowners who blocked it. I am a homeowner in Harvey Cedars and am most thankful that our mayor went forward with the replenishment project despite the threat of lawsuits. The Karans and the other selfish homeowners who have either blocked the project or who are suing our beach towns after the fact should hang their heads in shame.
Michael G. November 16, 2012 at 10:15 PM
I agree wholeheartdly, why is the U.S. taxpayer paying to protect these properties time and time again. Let the homeowners pay for the insurance like everyone else.
Fred November 16, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Oh shut up the gov'ment will pay to repair our investment properties. We are better than you. deal with it.
greg cummings November 16, 2012 at 10:59 PM
"Kill the lawyers first".....Shakespear
Dave Sleeper November 16, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Exactly, Angela. These wonderful people build these houses out there and when they get hit by the 100 year storm that EVERYBODY knew would come sooner or later, they want me to subsidize their insurance? I don"t think so!
John November 16, 2012 at 11:42 PM
The homeowners who are still hold outs, have obviously zero common sense. If ever the greater good were to be an arguement, this would be the time. They should be embarrassed and ashamed. They were given the reasons for replenishment and given the option to advocate it. instead they ignored common sense and professional advice for personal reasons.
stuffin November 17, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Per the lawyer; "These walls of sand ended up within homes and upon streets blocks away from the ocean beach area." Let see, sand in home or no home? No Dune For You!!!
Michael G. November 17, 2012 at 02:47 PM
The GVT. should not pay to repair INVESTMENT properties. Buy the insurance, what does the (we are better than you0 statement mean ?

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