October 23, 2014
Jersey Shore Partnership
One River Centre
331 Newman Springs Rd., Bldg. 3
Red Bank, NJ 07701
Contact: Margot Walsh
PROPERTY RIGHTS VS. THE PUBLIC GOOD
As our children prepare for a storm-free Halloween, we are haunted by the memory of Superstorm Sandy, the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, as well as the second-costliest hurricane in United States history. Two years ago on October 29, 2012 Sandy landed on our shores with a vengeance. Response to the storm has demonstrated the resiliency and pro-active resolve of Jersey Shore residents and businesses to build a stronger coastline better able to resist future sandy-like storms.
A lesson learned from Sandy is that towns with well-nourished wide beaches and dune systems were better able to mitigate the damage incurred by coastal communities without this buffer. Communities along the coast from Sea Bright to Cape May Point are constructing dune buffers or restoring dunes damaged in the storm.
In many instances, easements were required to construct the dunes and the DEP reported that in Ocean County 80% of the required easements have been granted by shorefront homeowners. Unfortunately, some Ocean County homeowners continue to resist signing easement agreements believing that the dunes are an infringement on their property rights and not necessary for beach protection. This flies in the face of reality and jeopardizes not only their own property but also adjacent properties.
Dunes serve a public good and, we believe, this supersedes a shorefront property owner’s right to resist the creation of dunes on their property. It is most unfortunate that a clustered group of homeowners is holding the Corps of Engineers and the State DEP hostage in moving forward with a much needed beach widening and dune construction project funded primarily by the federal government.
Gov. Christie issued an Executive Order in September that directs the Attorney General’s Office and DEP to take whatever action is required to obtain property easements. Hopefully, the resisting homeowners will put aside their personal issues and realize that signing an easement is in their best interest for future storm protection.
The Jersey Shore Partnership is a not-for-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization that focuses on stable funding for coastal protection and beach replenishment and on those issues and initiatives that are important to the Jersey Shore coastal communities and the State’s tourism economy.