Toms River’s Next Step in Easement Process [AUDIO]
Those holdouts in Toms River refusing to sign easements are getting a written ultimatum this week: "You either sign or face eminent domain."
About 20 oceanfront property owners are receiving the letters via certified mail. The whole dune project from the US Army Corps of Engineers depends on the signatures.
But what if they still refuse?
Township Attorney Ken Fitzsimmons says this fight has gone on long enough and they need to have everyone's cooperation.
"There is no hard and fast deadline, but it really is yesterday. We would like to see this vital project underway as soon as possible," Fitzsimmons explained.
Surveyors are mapping out the plans for the dune project that officials have said should protect Toms River and shore communities if another storm like Sandy strikes.
Once completed, real estate appraisers will determine the compensation to property owners, and the township's law department will then go to court to secure the rights to the land. Fitzsimmons says the property owners can then contest the eminent domain claim, which could take years.
Homeowners, who have signed easements, are having smaller dunes built to prevent problems while the issue is worked out. However, they aren't adequate enough to protect from a Sandy type of storm.
"That's why we need the Army Corps project done."