Beach replenishment projects to start regardless of easements
As the air turns cooler, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has plans for numerous Sandy-recovery projects through the winter and spring.
While there are still a few flood mitigation projects in areas of Port Monmouth and Green Brook Township that need to be completed, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said the bulk of the work will be beach replenishment projects along the state's coastline in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Army Corps has already done eight major beach replenishment projects totaling $345 million. Beach replenishment has been completed in many Monmouth County shore towns, but still needs to be done in some of the worst-hit Ocean County communities.
Work on a stretch of beach from Long Beach Island to Ocean City will begin in December and run until January.
A separate project covering the majority of northern Ocean County could start in late winter.
"In northern Ocean County, we expect that project to be starting in the March-April time frame. This is one of the largest and most complex projects that the Army Corps has to do. It's taken more time to design and it's taken more time to get everything done," Martin said.
Getting all of the easements from beachfront homeowners was also one of the reasons beach replenishment in northern Ocean County had to be delayed.
As of mid-October, state officials said they still need 380 easements for various beach replenishment projects across the coast. In northern Ocean County, 330 are needed, 123 which are located in Bay Head.
While the state has been battling for nearly two years with beachfront homeowners over the easements, Martin says no matter what, the projects will start by 2015.
"If they don't cooperate with us, we'll take the easements through the Disaster Control Act or Title 12, which gives the state the right to take those beaches immediately and compensate the landholders at the end of the day," Martin said.
Gov. Chris Christie signed an order last year giving the state the power to do whatever is needed to acquire the easements. Most, however, have voluntarily signed the easements. When Christie signed the order, the state needed approximately 2,850 public and private easements.
"Right now, we're in better shape than we were prior to Sandy and we'll be in great shape by 2016," Marin said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.