Now that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is in charge of obtaining the remaining easements necessary for allowing work to begin on the Army Corps of Engineers stalled dune project, Toms River officials are requesting monthly progress reports on every property from Point Pleasant Beach to Barnegat Inlet.

Ortley Beach, NJ
Residents of Ortley Beach, NJ watch their home get demolished (Mark Wilson, Getty Images)

Toms River Councilman George Wittmann said the Township is making the request in a letter, that also includes a spread sheet of specific items they want the NJDEP to provide in the status updates.

In addition to the lot and block of the property, Toms River officials want to know: the status of the easement, whether a survey and appraisal have been completed, whether an offer letter has been made to the property owner, and if not, whether a court date has been scheduled for Eminent Domain, according to Wittmann.

"In order for us to get some milestones as to how the project is progressing, if the easements aren't finished, then the project can't even be bid and won't be able to be built. So, by seeing what kind of progress they're making on obtaining easements, we'll get a gauge as to how accurate it is when they [NJDEP] project the construction timeline is going to be," said Wittman.

Toms River obtained all but five easements before the NJDEP took over the process. Wittman explained the Township had a rider in the agreement that was struck down by the Army Corps.

"So, in the case of those property owners, we're hopeful that the new language that the Army Corps of Engineers wants to be included, will be accepted. There's five property owners that refuse to accept the terms of our easement with or without that side letter, and so we know that those properties will be subject to Eminent Domain," Wittmann said.

Wittman reiterated it's imperative Toms River have the information its requesting in the monthly status reports to see what progress is actually being made towards getting all the easements in place.

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