A Jersey shore town is appealing to the federal government to build dunes at the end of three streets that were excluded from a beach replenishment project because homeowners wouldn't sign access papers to allow the work.

Surf City is asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to come back to the Long Beach Island town and protect the beaches from 22nd to 25th streets. They were left out of this summer's beach repair, which ended in July, because a handful of holdouts refused to sign easements six years ago when a prior project was done.

The feds say they can't legally do the work without the easements.

But Councilman Peter Hartney said the Army Corps has authority from Congress to return the beaches to their pre-Superstorm Sandy condition.

"They're finished pumping sand onto the beach," he said Monday. "Knowing that they had the opportunity to do something is frustrating."

In 2000, he said, Congress authorized the project for the entirety of Surf City's shoreline. He also said the Army Corps has the authority under federal law "to rehabilitate any federally authorized hurricane or shore protection structure" when such work is necessary to ensure that the project functions as designed.

A spokesman for the Army Corps said it has received Surf City's request but cannot grant it because this year's work can be done only on previously repaired stretches of beach. But the excluded streets could be eligible for repair funding under Superstorm Sandy aid that has yet to be allocated, he said.

It's the latest manifestation of a battle that has been fought along the Jersey shore for years, pitting oceanfront homeowners against the wider community at large, and taken on new urgency after last year's mega-storm.

Some of the holdouts have said they fear that signing the easements would allow towns to build boardwalks or amusement rides near their homes -- something that governments say they have no intention of doing.

So while most of the town has a 22-foot dune and 300 to 400 feet of widened beach between it and the ocean, streets at the end of town have only a flat beach and a man-made sand pile pushed up by bulldozers as a last-ditch emergency protection to get it through this year's summer and fall hurricane season, and the winter to follow.


(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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