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Appeals panel awards Ocean County couple $375K in sand dune replenishment dispute!

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TRENTON — In a decision that could have far-reaching implications for beach replenishment efforts along the Jersey shore, a state appeals court panel Monday upheld a hefty award for a Harvey Cedars couple who contended that building dunes to restore the beach diminished the value of their oceanfront home.

 

The $375,000 jury award to Harvey and Phyllis Karan is the largest of all the cases where beachfront property owners clashed with officials in the affluent Ocean County borough on Long Beach Island and likely could mean trouble for future beach replenishment projects, experts said.

 

"There is a very strong likelihood this will end beach replenishment as we know it in the state," said Lawrence Shapiro, the Ocean Township attorney representing Harvey Cedars. "People will see a money grab. People may say `I’m not going to give an easement because I could get money.’"

 

In dire need of wider beaches for storm protection, Harvey Cedars joined with the state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a $25 million beach replenishment project that built 22-foot high dunes on the oceanfront in 2009 and 2010.

 

As part of the project, Harvey Cedars was required to obtain 82 easements from the oceanfront homeowners. Shapiro said the borough had trouble getting most of the easements after offering homeowners $300 each. The borough moved to condemn 15 of the easements, prompting three unresolved court cases, Shapiro said. About five of the condemnation cases settled for a "substantial" amount, in the range of $150,000 to $160,000, Shapiro and Mayor Jonathan Oldham said.

 

The Karans said they lost value in their home, which is assessed at $1.7 million, because the dunes block most of their "formerly spectacular ocean view." They wanted $500,000; the borough’s real estate expert, as he did in the other cases, said the loss was worth $300.

 

Harvey Cedars, a town with 337 year-round residents and a $2.9 million budget, set aside $1.1 million for its share of the beach replenishment project but would be on the hook for another $500,000 to pay for the easements, Shapiro said.

 

"To try to protect people’s homes makes sense to me, but to give an exorbitant payout does not," Oldham said. The borough has not decided whether to ask the state Supreme Court to hear the case, officials said.

 

During the trial last year, Superior Court Judge E. David Millard would not allow the borough to argue that the oceanfront homeowners received a "special benefit" from the dunes, which were designed to protect the beach and curtail flooding.

 

Shapiro tried to argue the oceanfront homeowners particularly benefited from frontline storm protection by the new dunes. But attorneys for homeowners contended the dunes created the same benefit for all the borough’s residents, not just those living on the oceanfront.

 

"The dune is not a special benefit. It is a benefit for the entire island," said William Ward, an attorney who represented oceanfront homeowner Martin Flumenbaum, who settled with the borough in 2010.

 

Because of the Karan case, neighboring Long Beach Township is considering bringing any contested easement cases to federal court because that court recognizes special benefits, said township mayor Joseph Mancini.

 

In the Loveladies and North Beach sections of town, where the lots are bigger than those in Harvey Cedars, jury awards in those cases would likely be higher than the Karans’, he said.

 

If the Karan case sets precedent, the town won’t be able to afford to pay an average $300,000 for each of the 200 easements it needs, Mancini said.

 

"Sixty million dollars in awards when you only have a $22 million budget," he said. "The math doesn’t work."

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The town needs to send the right message by taking their home by imminent domain and turning it into a municipal pay parking lot for beach-goers.

 

How's your view now?

 

 

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Hopefully the next storm takes out that house.

Cabo

 

Can't say i blame them. If a storm takes their fancy weekend home they just re-build it with flood insurance and FEMA money.

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If you own a beach home be sure to say thank you Harvey and Phyllis Karan. Towns are not going to be replenishing beaches because of the precedent set here. Enjoy looking at the water as the waves come knocking on you windows and doors. Common sense is no longer common.

 

It looks like Mr. Karan may be a partner in a company that owns apartments and real estate. I would have hoped he understood land use better.

 

Maybe he will sue next time because he was allowed to have a home that close to the water and it became damaged.

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If you own a beach home be sure to say thank you Harvey and Phyllis Karan. Towns are not going to be replenishing beaches because of the precedent set here. Enjoy looking at the water as the waves come knocking on you windows and doors. Common sense is no longer common.

It looks like Mr. Karan may be a partner in a company that owns apartments and real estate. I would have hoped he understood land use better.

Maybe he will sue next time because he was allowed to have a home that close to the water and it became damaged.

 

The damages will be covered by their flood insurance. To a weekend beach home owner there are more pros than cons to no beach replenishment.

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Can't say i blame them. If a storm takes their fancy weekend home they just re-build it with flood insurance and FEMA money.

 

If that happens they may not be able to rebuild. I know that happened up here in CT. There were a couple of homes damaged with the hurricane. Insurance covered the loss but they cannot rebuild at the site again.

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Its a shame that they got money - everyone I know on the island has a problem with it.

 

Just prior to beach replenishment several neighboring houses were undermined by the North Easters we had that winter and had to pay to have their foundations reinforced/filled in. They were just one storm away from not having a beachhouse. The picture below is of the adjacent town after the NE storms and it was much worse in Harvey Cedars. How can a beachfront owner not be thankful for replenishment, when if they fall off their deck they are going to hit the water?

 

Lawyers don't know the facts - beach front home owners do get a special benefit as they will be the first house to go in a storm and have the highest risk of damage. (As for the non-beach front houses, no dune is going to protect anything against a 100 year storm - the ocean meets the bay and we are all in the drink.) Also if they still own up to the high water mark they actually gained about 50 yds of property. Finally as long as I can remember Harvey Cedars had the skinniest beaches on LBI, at times it was tough to find a place to put a beach towel at high tide or to safely drive a truck on.

 

As for fishing I don't like the results of the replenishment or the fact that it covers the jetties. There has to be a better solution out there than just piling up some sand that will eventually wash away.

 

Low Tide

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High Tide

http://www.stripersonline.com/image/id/3331057/width/600/height/450]

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I say to off set the cost of attorney fees and lawsuits caused by this issue, re-asses the Municipal property tax for beach front homes by 300 % than what they are now in that town. I bet not one resident on that beach front  will say anything in the future about easements and dunes.


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What does it all mean?  Is this a dilemma for NJDEP?



 



According to the Asbury Park Press (Mar. 27, 2012): Stephen Rochette, a spokesman for the corps, said agency would not comment on the specifics of the case, adding the acquisition of property is the responsibility of the municipality and the state.



 



All of the real estate requirements for the project are the responsibility of the nonfederal sponsor, NJDEP (state Department of Environmental Protection), and we’ll continue to work closely with them for future construction and renourishment schedules,” Rochette said.



 



I am confused.  On one hand, the state wants beach replenishment because it protects municipal infrastructure, not because it provides special benefit to some. 



 



On the other hand, the state had said, “Municipalities that do not have such plans (Municipal Public Access Plans) may be ineligible for any Green Acres loans or grants for any purpose within that municipality. Additionally, municipalities without plans may rank lower for shore protection funding projects and would not be eligible for certain general permits.”



 



Just for good measure, let’s throw in the department’s “waiver rule” over which they are presently being sued.  This rule, say some, will allow the DEP commissioner to waive virtually any section of any rule or, approve permits even if they violate the law.



 



One can only wonder how much common sense would be evidenced if the state forces upon municipalities, the real estate responsibilities to enable projects, which NJDEP may rank in lower priority as leverage against a municipality for compliance elsewhere.



 



I absolute like the concept that the property from which a structure was lost cannot again be built upon.  (Drew C. View Post)



 



I had thought that this was the case in NJ, but maybe not.  Whether we have it or not makes no real difference because the NJDEP may prevail in hanging onto their waver rule.


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This spells trouble in this age of global warming and rising ocean levels . Why wouldn't the Corp of Engineers take over this case and put it into a Federal Court where it belongs ?

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If that happens they may not be able to rebuild. I know that happened up here in CT. There were a couple of homes damaged with the hurricane. Insurance covered the loss but they cannot rebuild at the site again.

 

 

 

 

 

This should absolutely be the way it is. Or, if you receive any Federal funds, the land reverts to public domain.

 

 

 

I know why it isn't; because for many of these rich people, the loss of their $1.7M beach home would be a blip. They could afford to rebuild it without any help, or they can pay some lawyers to get the government and insurance companies to cover their losses.

 

 

 

People like this exist on a different plane than the rest of us.

 

 

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