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Dune Ruling Has Big Impact for Easements [AUDIO]

In addition to returning $375,000 back to Harvey Cedars, the State Supreme Court’s decision to require lower courts to consider the protective properties of dunes also helps towns still needing to get access easements for federal beach replenishment project.

Sand Dunes
Flickr User angusleonard

The court ruled that the protective benefits of the dune should have been considered along with the loss of the ocean views in calculating the property’s true market value.

“The protective nature of the dune saves a multimillion house from being destroyed. I don’t know how saving a multimillion dollar house that the view would be greater than protecting a house,” says Governor Christie, who has been vocal about easement holdouts.

“This should be a clear message to the 1,400 or so folks who have not yet given easements along the 127 miles of Jersey’s coast line. You’re not going to be paid a windfall for your easement.”

Harvey Cedars Mayor Jonathan Oldham, who stated without the ruling, “beach replenishment would have been over in New Jersey.”

He notes removing the incentive for a payout will hopefully change the minds of a lot of easement holdouts.

“If someone were going to be expecting to receive three hundred or three hundred and fifty thousand dollars, they would never sign their easement unless their home was ready to wash into the ocean.”

The ruling has a lasting impact on future public projects according to Sierra Club New Jersey Director Jeff Tittel. By requiring lower courts to consider the benefits of public projects, it prevents residents from making frivolous claims to get money from the speculative value of their property.

“Someone would say if you put a bike path near my house, ‘I’ll hear the sounds of bicycles in the morning, compensate me’ or if you build a storm water retention basin to clean up storm water runoff to protect Barnegat Bay, they’ll say, ‘well I hear frogs [and it bothers me], compensate me.'”

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