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Thread: Shore towns near showdown with dune-building foes

  1. #1
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    Shore towns near showdown with dune-building foes

    http://www.northjersey.com/news/Shor...ding_foes.html


    LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP Armando Rienzi may be the most unpopular person on Long Beach Island.

    For years he has fought authorities' attempts to rebuild the dunes in front of his $1.7 million oceanfront home to act as a buffer to Atlantic storms.

    As the Ocean County resort recovers from Sandy, blame for the heavy damage the storm inflicted has fallen squarely on Rienzi and at least 100 other local owners who have thwarted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' efforts by refusing to turn over a portion of their beachfronts.

    Angry residents drive by Rienzi's three-story Brant Beach house yelling, "Are you going to sign now?"

    Township Mayor Joe Mancini has suggested neighbors think about suing the holdouts.

    But while some have agreed post-Sandy to grant the government easements, Rienzi - a Bucks County resident who owns a food distribution company - is not giving in.

    "Write this down: It's not about money, it's not about egos," he told The Philadelphia Inquirer said last week. "This is definitely a constitutional, civil rights issue. What's happening here is a tragedy. . . . Somebody needs to stand up and, unfortunately, that's going to be me."

    The fight over rehabilitating the Jersey Shore's dune system - long ago compromised by development - has been in and out of courtrooms for years. It pits the government's mandate to protect seaside communities from nor'easters and hurricanes against the rights of property owners anxious to preserve their unobstructed view of the ocean.

    On New Jersey's barrier islands, towns whose dunes had been worked on by the Army Corps - such as Ocean City and Avalon - sustained less Sandy damage, according to officials. With many dunes now compromised, politicians from Gov. Christie down are pushing to have them bolstered quickly, setting up a legal showdown that could determine the fate of the Shore for generations.

    Of the 98 miles of New Jersey coastline that are developed, less than half have seen dune rehabilitation projects, according to the Army Corps.

    In some cases, Congress hasn't appropriated funds. State, local, and federal agencies already have spent $700 million on such projects in the state since 1986.

    But officials are butting up against predominantly wealthy residents with the courts on their side.

    For the Army Corps to create a dune, typically 22 feet high, it requires permission from the homeowner on whose land it will be built. Property lines generally extend to the high-tide mark.

    How officials would get around the legal roadblock is unclear.

    Christie and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) have said eminent domain is an option.

    That could come at a huge cost. In March, a state appellate court upheld a $375,000 judgment compensating a Long Beach Island couple for their lost view after the borough of Harvey Cedars seized a portion of their property to build dunes.

    Multiply that by all the homes that line the coastline and the cost to municipalities would be prohibitive.

    Paula A. Franzese, a law professor at Seton Hall University who has followed the issue, said that while government's right to take land for shore protection is well-established, the question of how to acquire large blocks of high-priced property for the public good remains unanswered.

    In California, efforts to use a fixed scale to set government compensation to coastal homeowners forced off their land by mudslides and other natural disasters have met with lawsuits by those who said the rate does not reflect market value.

    "It may well be that this storm pushes the court to finally reassess the question of valuation," Franzese said. "You have to add in the environmental stakes. If the dunes are not built to adequately repel the next surge, that will cause immense harm, economically and environmentally, for the homeowners and the greater populace."

    For now, the towns are exploring their options. One possibility would be to take eminent-domain cases to federal court in hopes the high judgments awarded homeowners come down. Officials are watching closely to see what happens when the Harvey Cedars case goes to the state Supreme Court.

    On Wednesday, Christie floated the possibility of the state's taking over the land-acquisition process from municipalities, many of which barely have funds to cover litigation, let alone the settlements.

    "I'm listening. I'm hoping the governor has a better plan than what we have in place now," said Mancini, the township mayor.

    Thanks to Sandy, some homeowners have given up the fight, said Larry Schapiro, an Ocean County attorney who represents Shore towns in easement cases.

    "I don't think property owners want to go to a condemnation case right now," he said. "A jury in Ocean County isn't going to be sympathetic."

    While towns typically portray those who have denied easements as selfish and out for financial gain, the homeowners - many of whom asked not to be named by The Inquirer for fear of retribution by neighbors - said they had tried to reach a compromise with authorities.

    Attorney Kenneth Porro, who represents some holdouts on Long Beach Island, said more would sign off on easements if the Corps of Engineers agreed to make the dunes no higher than the first floor of a house. The easements also should be temporary, he said.

    "They make life so difficult," he said of authorities. "Government has to turn on square corners. It's not helping anyone."

    The Army Corps maintains the dunes after their construction, and temporary easements would require officials to seek homeowners' permissions again and again.

    As Rienzi worked to get his Shore home back in order last week, he showed off photos of the dunes he had created himself - he said the township had ordered him to do so as a result of the easement dispute - and pointed at the relatively untouched homes behind him as proof they had worked.

    "Our story isn't getting out there," he said. "I've been coming here for 30 years. I love this island."

    With many residents still reeling and businesses in parts of the island mostly shuttered, Rienzi's defense was falling on deaf ears.

    At a pizzeria in the Ship Bottom section, a power-ski mechanic who was displaced by the storm said he was fed up with stubborn property owners, most of whom live on the island part time.

    "You mean the morons who won't sign the easements?" said Douglas K. Campbell, 47, who was living in Surf City before Sandy.

    "It's these guys who say, 'I'm a lawyer,' 'I'm a doctor,' 'You can't tell me what I'm going to do. I want to walk outside and see the ocean.'

    "Just go to the top deck," Campbell said. "What's the problem?"

  2. #2
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    Apparently Long beach Long Island voters turned down the Army Corp. of Engineers plan to do the same thing 6 years ago...for the same aesthetic reasons.

    Cant say I blame them, as one could have never imagined this storm.

    The choice is clear, now. And anyone building the same sort of structures to replace the ones lost are fools.

    Its time to re-think shore line architecture and infrastructure here in oh-12.

    -

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    Quote Originally Posted by 32green View Post
    Apparently Long beach Long Island voters turned down the Army Corp. of Engineers plan to do the same thing 6 years ago...for the same aesthetic reasons.

    Cant say I blame them, as one could have never imagined this storm.

    The choice is clear, now. And anyone building the same sort of structures to replace the ones lost are fools.

    Its time to re-think shore line architecture and infrastructure here in oh-12.

    -
    That was reported today. City of Long Beach reps voted 5-0 to not pay their portion of the cost of these 15. foot dunes because they interfered with views of the water.

    Adjacent communities such as Lido Beach, Point Lookout and Atlantic Beach did approve the project and were apparently far less devastated by Sandy then was Long Beach

    Sent from my SGH-T999 using Tapatalk 2

  4. #4
    This problem will ultimately be solved by the course of nature.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Winstonbiggs View Post
    This problem will ultimately be solved by the course of nature.


    eminent domain will be solved by nature?

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    No dunes, no more insurance and no sympathy.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Buster View Post
    eminent domain will be solved by nature?

    The tide will rise and fall regardless of private or public ownership.
    Last edited by Winstonbiggs; 12-06-2012 at 04:21 AM.

  8. #8
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    The Corp of Engineers doesn't need to go down the Eminent Domain path. New Jersey doesn't have Allodial Title. They can do what they want to the shore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by freestater View Post
    The Corp of Engineers doesn't need to go down the Eminent Domain path. New Jersey doesn't have Allodial Title. They can do what they want to the shore.
    That's not what this article implies:

    That could come at a huge cost. In March, a state appellate court upheld a $375,000 judgment compensating a Long Beach Island couple for their lost view after the borough of Harvey Cedars seized a portion of their property to build dunes.
    I'm not a lawyer but i think the lack of "Allodial Title" is what gives the government the power to claim eminent domain. But I admit I could be wrong on that.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster View Post
    That's not what this article implies:



    I'm not a lawyer but i think the lack of "Allodial Title" is what gives the government the power to claim eminent domain. But I admit I could be wrong on that.
    Allodial title means that you own the buildings on your land, not the land itself. It's the premise for the requirement to pay property taxes. Someone with an Allodial Title is the sovereign owner of the "property", not simply the "real estate". In a conceptual phrase, it's thought of as : you own from the grass up.

    Using the power the govt. has without issuing Allodial Titles, the govt. can alter the land without your permission and without forcing you off of it. Eminent Domain simply doesn't even need to come into play. Two different concepts. Much of the consternation involving Hydro-Fracking involves this very issue. With the horizontal drilling technology, energy companies can, might, and (more importantly) will, eventually drill under other peoples land. Residents are understandably opposed.


    Eminent Domain is the taking of land. Allodial Title refers to the fact that you simply rent what you've been conditioned to think you "own".

  11. #11
    Sounds like typical Govt. thinking.

    The solution to all problems is more Government, and less individual rights, in this case to own property. If the landowner does not agree, take it anyway.

    The basis? If somethign bad happens, the very same Govt. has chosen to bail out those impacted.

    Create a problem via Government, taxpayers paying for recovery of property in "bad" places instead of insurance companies and private responsabillity.

    Answer this manufactured problem via Government, by taking the land away from the owner and use the previous bailouts and cost as the cause.

    How about "if you own a House/property, you better insure it. If you don't, we (the people) will not be bailing you out if a storm/flood/godzilla hits you. And if you don't, and it stays a wreck, THEN we'll have Government do something to you for not living up to your property owner responsabillities.".

  12. #12
    Solution: insurance companies refuse any coverage unless appropriate measures are taken to maintain the safety of the properties.

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