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Runyan to Army Corps: Get Dune Project Moving

Concerned over the possibility of new storms, New Jersey Representative Jon Runyan (R-3) is pressing the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the 11-mile shorefront dune it plans to build from Manasquan Inlet to Barnegat Inlet.

Congressman Jon Runyan (R) during an appearance on MSNBC's Hardball
Congressman Jon Runyan (R) during an appearance on MSNBC’s Hardball (MSNBC)

He contacted the Corps this week to obtain a schedule from grounbreaking to completion, recommending that the project start in the areas that run the highest risk of devastation in severe weather.

“With hurricane season already here we need to begin construction of protective dunes as soon as possible,” said Runyan, “in order to prevent future damages.”

The project has been plagued with obstacles, most notably the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) clause requiring the signing of agreements that allow the Corps onto privately-owned beachfronts for construction and for maintenance every several years henceforth.

Many property owners have signed the easements, but a considerable number refuse, on a variety of grounds ranging from the potential loss of oceanfront vistas to government-sanctioned trespassing and de facto takeovers. In some instances, people who occupy houses on land belonging to the holdouts want to honor the easements, forcing them to consider legal action.

Township officials in Toms River and Long Beach have begun posting the identities and addresses of reluctant landowners on their web sites, with varying degrees of success.

The court ruling that awarded a Harvey Cedars couple six figures because of the effect the dune had on the view from their home is being reviewed. If it is overturned, it could open the door for eminent-domain proceedings against landowners avoiding compliance.

Dunes, by themselves, say coastal experts, can’t minimize storm damage unless they have a wide, gently-downward sloping beach to the water’s edge. The question remains whether the beaches in the narrowest portions of the northern barrier peninsula have sufficient width to be adequate first lines of defense.

Read the Congressman’s message to the Army Corps here.

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