The Supreme Court rejected the Lower Court’s decision to award Harvey Cedar homeowner $350,000 as compensation for loss of land and ocean view as a result of construction of dunes on their beachfront property. The Supreme Court argued that the benefits of dunes in protecting property must be considered in determining just compensation and sent the case back to the lower court. The homeowner settled the case with the state for $1.00 and attorney fees.
The Harvey Cedar settlement is an important step for the state’s beach replenishment program. Beachfront homeowners have been reluctant to grant easements waiting for the outcome of the Harvey Cedars case. Towns have been forced to delay moving forward with beach replenishment projects that require dunes because of lack of easements. Now it is clear that dunes have a value for property owners in protecting their homes and those behind them from more serious devastation from storms.
While the settlement precluded a court case under the new ruling, it is anticipated that easements will be less contentious to obtain so that the Army Corps of Engineers can complete replenishment projects as planned. The Jersey Shore Partnership argued before the Supreme Court that dunes provide a benefit to beachfront homeowners and are very pleased with the settlement that will positively impact our ability in restoring our beaches devastated by sandy.