Friday, January 15, 2010

Beachfill and Eminent Domain - Perfect together

Would you give up this piece of property voluntarily, without compensation?

Things are getting ugly on Long Beach Island New Jersey where in order to do a beach replenishment project, the Army Corps requires a construction easement to do the work. Sounds simple enough, but there are a few catches. The State of NJ has asked all oceanfront property owners on LBI for a permanent easement. This easement would take away ownership, but the homeowner would still have liability and the homeowner would still have to pay taxes on the property. Furthermore, the easement wold be transferable meaning an entity that may not even exist today may someday own this easement (Boardwalk Authority anyone?).

Understandably, a lot of people won't sign these easements. One town, Long Beach Township is taking drastic measures and introducing an ordinance that would take the property via eminent domain. It is all sad and unnecessary considering similar projects in North Carolina asked homeowners for temporary easements.

January 13, 2010

Beach easement holdouts to pay — one way or the other

Staff Writer

LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP — In the continuing fight to acquire the easements needed for the federally-funded beach replenishment project, the township is aiming to make homeowners who have not signed over the easements pay for repairs to the beaches in front of their homes by toughening an existing ordinance adopted in the 1970s.

The ordinance calls for all beachfront homeowners to be responsible for the maintenance of the dunes in front of their homes and if not completed within 15 days, the township will do the work and then bill them.

"If they are not going to allow the state and Army Corps to have access to the property, then they are not going to allow us," said Mayor Joseph Mancini. "A similar ordinance has been on the books for 39 years and we are now cleaning it up."

Mancini said by the not signing over their easement, the homeowner also is denying the township the right to fix any erosion issues that come up.

"If they don't sign the easement and their porch is hanging off into the ocean, they have not granted us access to the property and it's their responsibility to get it fixed," Mancini said.

The proposed changes to the ordinance come on the heels of the township officials saying they would go as far as using eminent domain to acquire the needed easements.

Under the proposed plan, Long Beach Township would get three appraisers to determine the value of a property, and then the township would move on with the eminent domain process from there, Mancini said. He said he hopes to have the ordinance introduced in the coming weeks.

The township needs to acquire the easements for the beach replenishment project. The Army Corps of Engineers will not start any work until all of the easements have been signed over. The corps currently is overseeing the project in neighboring Harvey Cedars.

The aim of the replenishment project is to increase the size of both the beach and the dunes.

Township Attorney Richard Shackleton said the ordinance is similar to one that was adopted in Surf City.

"If they are not going to give the Corps access, then they are not giving us access," Shackleton said.

A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for 4 p.m. Jan. 22 at the municipal building, 6805 Long Beach Blvd.

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