Time Running Out for Oceanfront Residents to Sign Easements

Mantoloking: litigation already being drawn up; Brick: confident easements will be signed

Two of the Jersey Shore towns most vulnerable to ocean breaches say the vast majority of oceanfront residents have signaled their intent to sign easements which would allow for a federal beach replenishment project to commence.

Holdouts in both municipalities could face legal action for holding up the project, however.

"We're down to five or six to go," said Mantoloking Mayor George Nebel. "I didn't expect to be this far along at this point."

Nebel said two homeowners in his small barrier island town have indicated they would not be signing easements.

In neighboring Brick Township, Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis said most of the township's beach associations - which control access to much of the oceanfront - have indicated they, too, would sign easements allowing for dune maintenance during a replenishment project.

Brick Township also has about 35 private oceanfront homeowners.

"We're talking to those people," said Acropolis. "I've talked to several of them on the phone and they said they have no problem signing the easement."

In Mantoloking, more than 120 residents have signed easements.

The easements allow federal government contractors access to small slivers of private residential property in order to build out protective dunes and maintain them once they are in place. In some communities, oceanfront residents have refused to sign the easements, saying larger dunes would block their view despite the protection they provide. Still other homeowners have argued that the easements could be used to build boardwalks and amusement parks in their backyards, though the easements express that they are only valid for dune maintenance.

The federal government has committed to funding a beach replenishment project between Manasquan and Barnegat inlets, but only after the easements have been signed.

Since Superstorm Sandy, the pressure has been on oceanfront residents to sign the easements, since ocean breaches have been blamed for causing extensive damage to barrier island neighborhoods as well as neighborhoods in mainland Brick Township after water rushed into Barnegat Bay and flooded lagoons on the western shore.

Acropolis has even suggested mainland residents sue oceanfront owners who do not sign easements, since they put mainland residents at a higher risk of flooding.

The two mayors have said both towns may impose deadlines for oceanfront owners to sign.

Nebel said a deadline will come "soon."

"I have great patience, and my patience is wearing very thin," said Chris Nelson, a Mantoloking resident who is serving as the borough's special counsel for storm cleanup issues.

Borough attorney Edwin J. O'Malley Jr. has already begun drawing up legal papers in reference to the matter, Nelson said.

"If you don't want to sign, then, well, you'll be litigating against the borough," said Nelson.

Acropolis said Brick Township is looking into its own deadline, and its attorney would file an amicus, or "friend of the court," brief in support of any action Mantoloking decides to take against its residents who do not sign the easements.

The project's timing may also hinge on the easements coming through in short order.

"We think we can move it very, very quickly if we have the easements in," said Nelson. "The remaining holdouts may get a call from Governor Christie, which would be interesting."

Sandy, Nelson said, provided proof that beach replenishment works - specifically on Long Beach Island, Ocean County's southern barrier island, much of which has been replenished.

"Look at Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Township, where they had replenishment ... the houses are still standing there and the dunes are still in good shape," he said.

But even if the easements are eventually all signed, there still may be issues getting the project off the ground, said Acropolis.

"The Army Corps hasn't said, 'if you have all those easements in place by a certain date, we'll start on the beach,'" he said.

In other words there is no set date on which the project will potentially begin, making it harder to set deadlines.

Acropolis did say that he favors petitioning the federal government to wait for the new dunes to be built before the federal government releases its final flood maps for both barrier island and mainland neighborhoods, saying the protective barrier could lessen flood zone determinations.

"They're going to come out with these new FIRM maps before this project may even be built," said Acropolis. "Down in Louisiana, they still don't have FIRM maps, seven years later [after Katrina]. That means their insurance wouldn't have gone up for six or seven years. They have to do that here."

Wendie February 28, 2013 at 02:24 AM
@boromom - I "must have money"? Seriously? That's the best insult you could come up with? Lemme ask you a question. If I pay $50,000 (which I don't have) to raise my house 10 feet and put it onto pilings, why the EFF should I have to pay for flood insurance at all - let alone at 400% my current rate? it must be because I 'don't mind paying for others!' Nice try boromom. Enjoy the Affordable Care Act! I sure hope you 'have money' and 'don't mind paying for others' while they make up/change the rules as they go along, tell you how to live your life/what you can and can't do, and dole out care with conditions on a whim because as you can see, that's where government-run insurance gets you. @Brick Surfer - No, they just want people out of here and the bay to be a scenic vista you can take a picture in front of on a daytrip. And all of you attacking the 'elites' on the beach are playing right into their hands. They'll come for us next. Hey BS, really selfish of you to go surfing in the ocean, btw. You might get bit by a shark and hafta use up valuable resources we pay for! (; Who do you think you are putting your reckless self in the surf maybe needing a lifeguard rescue, ambulance, blood transfusion when the rest of us are sitting safely at home in front of our beta screens keeping our carbon footprint real?? The nerve of you thinkin who the heck you are for a cheap thrill while the rest of us pay pay pay! Are we learning any lessons here people?
FAQall February 28, 2013 at 02:30 AM
Hi boromom. Could you please lend the national weather association your crystal ball so they can tell me when the next one is comming. You obviously live inland away from the water and are truly jealous of the people who do! Reason being is that water people don't act like you we band together as a community and try to resolve issues as a whole and not bicker and take low blows at one another. It solves nothing. Educate yourself if your so worried about money to fix our wonderful community then get out. If the pines inland were to burn down and residents there lost everything would you be saying they should let the goverment cut down all the trees on their property(easements)so you don't have to pay. I for one would do what I have to do. I choose to live in brick on the water I know the risks of living on the coast same as living at the base of a mountain when it snows you may have avalanches. Just relax let the goverment handle it and don't be so hostile.its not how we act down here. Remember the 3 C's. calm,cool,collective. Just be glad we are all safe and very few fatalities. It's the looters that you should be focusing your anger on. Thank you god bless us all. :)
Mary Ann February 28, 2013 at 07:11 PM
I agree that the easements need to be signed ASAP. Everything that can possibly be done to protect the most people and their property should be done. We all love our homes here at the shore whether on water with a view or not. We all pay our taxes - yes, some more than others - but that doesn't determine how we all feel about the Jersey Shore. Change is always difficult. I am sure it is very hard see past what you feel you maybe giving up, but please do what you know in your hearts to be the right thing. We need the easements to help protect what we all have and love here. Thank you to all the reasonable, responsible residents that have signed already. Hopefully, we can all feel a little bit safer from flooding very soon.
patch March 02, 2013 at 05:53 PM
print the names and addresses of property owners who will not sign easments,so all of their neighbors will know who they are,and who will be costing theyre towns with legal fees!
proud April 16, 2013 at 09:39 PM
I agree with @patch. Publish the names of the selfish holdouts. They did it on LBI. You can find the names on the township of Long Beach web site. It is likely there will be huge demand for tar and feathers, so stock up now folks.


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