Dune fight: NJ makes good on threat, files eminent domain lawsuits in Ocean County
The Christie Administration has filed the first of its promised eminent domain actions against Ocean County homeowners who have not granted permission for easements so dunes can be built as protection against future major storms.
The suits against seven property owners in Brick were filed in Ocean County Superior Court, adding to the 28 eminent actions filed since mid-October against property owners in Atlantic County and 17 against residents on Long Beach Island.
“It is disappointing that we need to go through such considerable legal efforts to obtain easements from holdouts who continue to delay our efforts to safeguard our coast, particularly in northern Ocean County, where superstorm Sandy did the most damage,” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said in a statement. “We will continue to be aggressive in seeking condemnation of portions of remaining properties in northern Ocean County and elsewhere along the coast to avoid any further delays for these critical Army Corps beach projects that will protect lives and property.”
The dune replenishment project would include the construction of approximately 25-foot-wide dunes, 75-foot-wide berms and 175 acres of dune grass in an 11-mile stretch from the Manasquan Inlet all the way down to the Barnegat Inlet.
The governor has been adamant about getting the land from homeowners ever since superstorm Sandy ravaged the coastline in 2012.
Christie said on the March 2013 edition of "Ask the Governor" he hoped to get the homeowners to grant the easements by using "gentle persuasion," but added, "Whatever action I have to take, I will take to protect this state."
The DEP is continuing to work with the U.S. Army Corps to phase the large project in smaller sections so work can begin sooner. There are currently 283 easements still outstanding on the northern Ocean County peninsula, held by 176 property owners.