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Brick to Condemn Dune Land From Oceanfront Easement Holdouts

A steel revetment along Brick's oceanfront, looking south from Brick Beach III. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

A steel revetment along Brick’s oceanfront, looking south from Brick Beach III. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The Brick Township council on Tuesday night will consider an ordinance formally condemning slivers of oceanfront land from homeowners who have refused to sign easements allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a protective dune.

The ordinance, which will be introduced on first reading Tuesday and would require a second vote and public hearing, would immediately take the properties in question if passed. The ordinance does not take entire properties; just the small amount of beachfront needed to build and maintain the dune.

Late last month, Business Administrator Joanne Bergin told Shorebeat that the township had 44 property owners who were refusing to sign the easements. The township’s financial risk in taking the plots of sand by eminent domain is relatively small, land use experts say, since the state Supreme Court last year threw out a $375,000 judgment given to a Harvey Cedars couple who had their easement land taken for a beach replenishment project in Long Beach Island. Under new rules that require juries to consider the dune protection as an added value, most similar takings have yielded no more than a few hundred dollars worth of compensation for homeowners. The Harvey Cedars case was eventually settled for $1.

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The Army Corps replenishment project will result in 23 foot-high dunes being built along Brick’s oceanfront with a beach at least 200 feet in length. The project is separate from the steel wall revetment that is currently being built along the ocean – the dunes will ultimately cover the steel wall, which is 15 feet high and buried 30 feet underground.

The Army Corps project will most likely begin in March or April, officials have said. A contract for the work is expected to awarded within the next month.