More than 19 months after Superstorm Sandy lashed New Jersey, beachfront homeowners are still fighting efforts to build large sand dunes on their properties to protect against future hurricanes.

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According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, there are about 600 to 700 oceanfront property owners that haven't signed easements.

"Some people, for philosophical reasons or whatever, their personal reasons, don't want to give up the easements to their property," said Larry Ragonese, director of communications for the DEP. "They don't trust government. They think that maybe there will be certain events or things that will occur on the beaches near their homes that they don't want. They like it the way it is right now."

Ragonese said a lot of time and energy has been spent by the state and local municipalities to explain to homeowners that the dunes are necessary to strengthen and restore and protect the beaches.

Allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create a better dune system will benefit local property owners and the local community, according to Ragonese.

"It's the guy next door," he said, "it's the guy who owns the hot dog store or the pizza place down the street that need protection for the future."

Despite the holdouts, there are many areas of the state where the dunes have already been built up.

"We're finishing up much of northern Monmouth County right now," Ragonese said. "We'll be moving down into Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May at the end of this year -- all through next year.  We're trying not to impede the tourism season, and to try to make sure people enjoy themselves."

Sandy damaged or destroyed 360,000 homes and businesses, causing an estimated $37 billion in damage.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.