In Ocean County dune fight, homeowners want assurance from state
Funding for future beach replenishment remains a big concern for some Jersey Shore oceanfront property owners opposed to the state's protective dune project, which continues to be delayed by litigation over eminent domain proceedings.
Bay Head oceanfront residents are waiting to see whether a judge will block the state from seizing a portion of their land. The homeowners argue that the dune creates a redundancy to an existing privately-funded rock wall. In Mantoloking, where the state installed a steel wall along Route 35 after Superstorm Sandy, oceanfront property homeowners will present their case next week as to why they also should be excluded from the dune project.
Last month, a judge ruled in favor of the state, giving the state Department of Environmental Protection the power to seize land from 28 beachfront owners in Ocean County. Because of the unique situations in Bay Head and Mantoloking, the judge ordered separate hearings for those cases.
The Army Corps of Engineers estimates the protective dune will last three to five years, according to Thomas Ammirato, spokesman for the Bay Head Oceanfront Property Owners Group.
"Given the frequency of storms that we've had just over the last six, seven months, it's logical to see that that sand dune won't last even three years," said Ammirato. "What happens to the protection that the state is purporting to deliver to the beachfront homeowners?"
Bay Head oceanfront owners want a guarantee from the state Department of Environmental Protection that there will be government funding available to cover the cost of rebuilding the dune so homeowners aren't stuck incurring the cost.
Recent comments by U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J. 2nd District, about New Jersey having to fight harder for federal beach replenishment dollars has fueled the concerns in Bay Head.
A DEP spokesman says the Army Corps has a great tradition of beach-replenishment projects and that the agency has no concerns about future replenishments. He also stated that the Northern Ocean County project, which includes Bay Head, would not need replenishment for six years after completion.