Court Settlement Stirs Up Waves In Beach Replenishment
A recent court ruling could have repercussions for beach replenishment programs around the state. Some are worried about the future of the regulations after a case in Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island.
How much is an ocean view worth to you? If you had a million dollar home facing the Atlantic Ocean, maybe a lot? The $375,000 award to Harvey and Phyllis Karan is the largest of all cases where beachfront property owners took issue with the work by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The problem? The 22-foot dune that was placed out on the sand blocked their view of the Ocean. As a result, they say it devalued their property. The issue was brought to court and the settlement was announced last week.
The attorney for the Karan family, Peter Wegener of Lakewood Township, says "when the government comes in and takes land from an owner, they should get what it's worth at full market value. What happened here was the borough administrator and assessor miscalculated or something. They originally said it wouldn't be a problem. That changed when my clients couldn't see the ocean."
Harvey Cedars Mayor Jonathan Oldham is not happy about the lawsuit or the settlement. He feels they shouldn't be getting paid for the town to protect their home. Oldham says "either way, the couple wins in both situations and the town loses. This could reverberate through the whole program."
The main concern Oldham and other officials have is that beach replenishment will either become too expensive or an impossibility. Oldham asks "who on Earth would sign the easements?! No one, thus putting an end to the program. I think the state needs to get involved and have the requirements and rules chnaged."
Oldham adds "this is an injustice. It's also a prime example of what's wrong with this country and why the state is in big trouble. I thought common sense was going to prevail here. It didn't."
The town has not yet decided if they are going to appeal it in the state Supreme Court.