Ocean County Superior Court Assignment Judge Marlene Lynch Ford has ruled the state and Long Beach Township must pay seven oceanfront homeowners for illegally taking their properties for six months for a dune replenishment project, according to NJ.com.

flickr, tizzie
flickr, tizzie

In the July 16th decision, Ford stated the property owners are entitled to fair market value and interest and a pro-rated share of taxes and attorney's fees, even though their land was seized for six months before the acquisition was voided.

The state and Long Beach Township officials seized the properties in the affluent Loveladies section after homeowners refused to sign easements for the beach replenishment project. The homeowners filed suit against the government entities in November.

"No matter how laudable the government's objectives of shore protection are, they must comply with their constitutional obligation to pay just compensation where constitutionally protected properties are implicated," Ford wrote in her 19-page decision.

An attorney representing the property owners told NJ.com his office is still calculating the relevant attorney's fees.

Meanwhile, it's unclear whether the state or the municipality will pay the property owners since Township officials seized the land under the direction of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The state Attorney General's Office is reviewing its options, according to NJ.com.

Ford will hold a separate hearing to reach a final calculation.

Beach replenishment is underway on LBI, but the sections where easements have not been obtained are being skipped.

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