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Dune Holdouts Have Their Reasons, Lawyer Says [AUDIO]

Oceanfront property owners have become the victims of public shaming in some Jersey shore towns, but should they be considered the bad guys?

NJ Beach Town Devastated By Hurricane Sandy
Mark Wilson, Getty Images

Those who still refuse to sign easements for a dune project along New Jersey’s coastline have seen their names published online and in the paper. Some local shops have refused to do business with them.

“This type of harassment, candidly, is not doing any good,” said Ken Porro, a lawyer in Paramus who represents 20 holdouts. “Our constitution protects them, our statutory law protects them of eminent domain, and the case law protects them.”

He continued, “Yet, they’ve been villainized because they’ve asked for certain changes.”

According to Porro, much of the hesitation to sign easements is associated with the document’s language. A number of holdouts want the wording to include a guarantee that no other structures will be built on the land in question. Porro said property owners have received letters promising such, but that’s not enough.

“I challenge anyone to read the four corners of the easement document, and say that they understand it, or say that they would sign it,” Porro exclaimed.

The project by the federal government, widely supported by local and state officials in the Garden State, would build or raise dunes to 22 feet. The need for such protection was highlighted last October when Superstorm Sandy put seaside towns under water.

Many of the holdouts, not surprisingly, didn’t see their properties suffer significant damage during the storm.

“They’re against giving up every and all rights whatsoever in a situation where they’re personally not suffering any damages,” said Porro. “We’re not looking at the particular concerns and needs of these individuals. All we’re looking at is, ‘Oh they’re selfish. They won’t sign.'”

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