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Council President: If Easements Are Not Granted, Property Owners Should Strengthen Dunes

Dune rebuilding must be completed while nation is focused on Sandy, council said

If beachfront property owners don't want to grant an easement for the construction of more robust dunes on their land, they should be made to pay for the sand structures, Toms River's Council President said this week.

"If you want to have a private beach and you don't want to give an easement, then build a dune to the required height — the required dimensions as the [U.S. Army] Corps of Engineers are going to build them. You'll see how fast that turns around when they find what the cost is. Maybe then we'll get some cooperation," Council President George Wittmann said when the governing body met this week.

Township officials plan to appeal to state and federal representatives to create rules requiring that protective dunes are built by the property owner should they not want to grant an easement that would allow the Corps to complete the work.

As a condition of the easement, Toms River requires property owners to grant the township public access to the beach between the dunes and the Atlantic Ocean in perpetuity. According to Business Administrator Paul Shives, one easement has been granted thus far. 

"My way of thinking is, right now the nation is still focused on Sandy. If we drag this thing out with easements for 2-3 years, people's memories are very short," said Councilman Mo Hill. "If we go to the Army Corps of Engineers three years from now, if all the easements take that long, we may not be a priority. Right now, I think everybody agrees, if we get these easements in a timely manner we are a priority and the Army Corps of Engineers will come here."

Property owners have been hesitant to grant the easements and have spoken before the council before to express their concerns. Some have asked for an open forum, having said that the township will not discuss the issue with them.

A few members of the council attended a discussion on beach replenishment last week. There, a professor and coastal engineering expert told them that, had the dunes been in place, Sandy's surge in the Barnegat Bay would have been reduced by three feet.

"I'm sure anyone living in the bay area, whether it's Gilford Park or the Silverton area, that made the difference between flooding and not flooding. We have to get past this parochial issue of 'it's my house, my property and I'm not going to put a dune on it,'" Wittmann said.

The council president said that the township must "push" federal and state representatives to require property owners build dunes if they do not want to grant an easement. 

A resident asked if the township can increase the size of the dunes on its own, without relying on help from the federal government.

"We can certainly consider that, but in terms of dollars I'm not sure we're going to be able to do that," Wittmann said.

The enhanced dunes must be completed along a great stretch of the Jersey Shore if it is going to work, Hill said. 

"This plan really needs to go from Barnegat all the way to Manasquan," he said. "You can't do it piecemeal, it's not going to give you adequate protection."

"It wouldn't make sense to do that if it's discontinuous anyway," Wittmann said. "I think the answer has to be a more comprehensive program. To build the dunes up on three streets and then stop, and then go another three streets and stop isn't going to help the situation. The water can go through the breaks."

Other shore towns are trying to get easements to allow for the Corps to come in. According to the council, the agreement would allow for 50 years of replenishment, with engineers returning every five years for beach maintenance. 

letsgetreal January 25, 2013 at 11:37 AM
Seems like common sense to me! Get it finalized and lets go already......
George January 25, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Some selfish guy's ocean view is not more important than my safety and my house in Silverton. The lack of dunes and lack of easements for beach replenishment let the ocean destroy barrier island towns and flood Barnegat Bay, bringing 3+ feet of water into mainland towns fronting on the bay. Why should we suffer tens of thousands of dollars' worth of damage because of their selfishness? Make 'em pay. Better yet, use EMINENT DOMAIN to get easements for the necessary work to put the sand back on the shoreline.
bennisennis January 25, 2013 at 12:54 PM
If it's private beach they the owners need to pay. I don't see why I as a Toms River tax payer need to pay to fix a private beach. Make it public and then it's everyone's issue but private means private they own it they fix it!!!
R Silva January 25, 2013 at 12:55 PM
I agree with the council by forcing the building of the dunes. However the council and the Freeholders did nothing before the storm to rebuild the beaches and dunes that was the townships responsibility. Less beach allows the ocean to break closer to the dunes and we have seen the damage to the dunes after a Nor'easter So let's stop the blame and do the right thing to protect the people.
Michael Capo January 25, 2013 at 01:20 PM
What this story and all of the other stories about the dunes fails to mention is the ridiculous conditions that Toms River sets along with the easement. They want the property owners to grant the easements and CONTINUE TO PAY INSURANCE, LIFEGUARDS AND MAINTENANCE ON THE BEACH. What financially prudent, sane person would ever agree to that? They conveniently fail to include that fact in their diatribe on dune replacement.
Debbie Bury January 25, 2013 at 01:35 PM
Ok who do I send all repair bills to repair our home in ortley beach since the town and the homes on the beach do not have the correct height on there dunes I think ortley residents need a good lawyer to represent the families who all were affected by the height of the dunes
jaime January 25, 2013 at 02:57 PM
i also live in Silverton, just bought my house in June of 2011 spent my savings fixing it up and now its gutted and i have not lived there since the storm. lost thousands in personal items and have on personal coverage on my policy. WTF is wrong with these people fix the duns. if another storm rolls thought we should be able to sue them for not maintaining the dunes because they want to have a view. build it higher and you can look at the ocean. my house is going to have to be raised another 4 feet because of this.
Chief Wahoo January 25, 2013 at 03:23 PM
as always reactive instead of proactive, in good old NJ
Unclebob January 25, 2013 at 03:37 PM
George, I thought was the only one to think of "Eminent Domain". If shore communities can take property under ED for "Revitalization" and "economic improvement", then it seems obvious that the need to protect mainland property is a given. Silverton is destroyed. My whole neighborhood is a ghost town. What, so some beachfront mansion can have a clear view of the ocean? Is there a legal term civil negligence. Maybe a class action lawsuit will get those dunes built faster?
John January 25, 2013 at 03:41 PM
If Toms River Twp had built the existing dunes properly would we be having this conversation? It's interesting how our government keeps placing the barrier island residents under the bus! It's time for OUR government to represent all of its residents fairly and not based upon their full time or part time status.
Julie G January 25, 2013 at 03:54 PM
I completely agree with George. Sign the easement, or they take it by eminent domain, and give them 10 days to make the choice. Enough is enough already.
Julie G January 25, 2013 at 03:56 PM
NC does this. Shared $ burden benefits all.
Steve Miller January 25, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Clearly, Toms River officials should have had "more robust dunes" in Ortley Beach all these years. Their failure to recognize and act on this fact over the years shows gross negligence since it contributed to reason the OB community is in the condition it is today (gross negligence = suit/damages). Neighboring Lavalette with robust dunes and jetties suffered much less damage. BTW, their taxes are lower too.
Johnjcpa January 25, 2013 at 05:13 PM
Be interesting to know whether there is a chance to actually have a dredging company do any work this year. There are very few companies that can do this work on the entire east coast. Given the amount of work necessary, not only here and in NY, but all along the east, there might not be anything to be decided for some time. To the people arguing about the need to provide an easement and then maintain the guards, etc. Just how many people do you think can get access with the limited parking near your associations.
Mark January 25, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Steve you are 100% correct. Toms River Township is responsible for a majority of the property damage in Ortley Beach since they failed to properly maintain the dunes for years.The 600K or so they raised from beach badge sales is by law supposed to be spent on beach related expenses, obviously TR failed to do that. We need to start organizing to force major changes in which TR governs us or explore litigation for past negligence and succession from this inept governing body. In addition there has been numerous burglaries in Ortley Beach in the last several weeks. Police presence in Ortley has been dramatically reduced. The Police Chief is to busy trying to impress the political leaders so he'll be anointed Ocean County Sheriff! What a joke! He should be fined 5K for each house burglarized in Ortley Beach on his watch!
Michelle V January 25, 2013 at 05:37 PM
Once again the issue of "private beaches" refusing to grant easements for dunes is a "half-truth" version. The private beaches in Ortley have been replenishing their dunes on their own for the past 2 wks. These private comm. had dunes prior to the storm which did protect most of the homes from washing away..most had flood damage. Unlike the "public" beaches of Ortley which had no dunes, suffered the most damage, mainly the beach blks where many homes no longer exist. I personally blame TR for NOT building dunes prior to the storm as did Lavallette & Seaside Pk, both of which suffered min damage. The fact is, it is not about the view, most homes do not have a view, so all this talk about being selfish for a view is ridiculous. It is about rebuilding dunes, it is about dredging the bay & the inlets to a level lower than it was pre-storm & obviously removing the houses, boats, 5 mill. cu yds of sand, etc. that are causing continuing flooding. The other issue of raising homes for those that can surely help them in the future..however, one subject that has not been brought up is taxes. If we raise our homes, how much does TR raise our taxes? Do they double them? triple them? plus our flood ins is supposed to double or triple whether you raise your home or not? I think TR & the governor need to address this before anyone agrees to raise their home. Yes, the push is to raise them, but what is the underlying thought process behind it? RAISE TAXES to make up for lost revenue!
TomsBoy January 25, 2013 at 05:38 PM
without a proper dune system in place it won't matter how high you build your home because everyone will be flooded with just a nor'easter. Maybe we should think about holding a meeting and if that doesn't work, then lets all think about eminate domain. Why should all suffer for few!
BKS January 25, 2013 at 06:50 PM
Toms River also wants the property owners to have "adequate" parking, as well as bathrooms. I live in Ocean Beach 2 and have no idea where we could even find the room or $$$ to do this. I agree there should be dunes, but like Mr. Capo stated, Toms River has conditions that are not financially and geographically realistic.
Mark January 25, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Toms Boy, The Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association (OBVTA) is having a meeting on Saturday 1/26/13. As many people as possible should attend this important meeting. General Meeting Notice: Next meeting is on 01/26/13 at 9:00 AM (Coffee & donuts @ 8:30 AM). See the General Membership Agenda. Please note the new meeting location. VFW Post 8867 373 Adamston Rd. Brick, NJ
Michael Capo January 25, 2013 at 08:42 PM
OBVTA drinks the TR koolaid.
shorecorruption January 25, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Why not install Jersey Barriers under the Dunes.If they were pined in place,you would still have protection after the sand was washed away. And you would only see them after thy did there job.
letsgetreal January 25, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Mark, With all do respect I just drove through Ortley yesterday and saw at least 8 Police cars. I am not really sure what your talking about, not to mention there were several NJSP cars. From what I am reading on the Patch there are burglaries all over Toms River which tells me that the town is under staffed with Police which is the fault of the Town council. Again, nobody is taking them to task just re-electing them.
Donna Griffin January 25, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Unclebob - Why do they need to "take" private property? If your lawn grows to an excessive height, the municipality comes in, mows it and sends you the bill. They don't take possession of the home. Why are the powers-that-be wrapping in dune replenishment with the seizure of private property? It's a slippery slope. Give the property owners a deadline. Meet that deadline or the town will have the work done and bill them. Is it really much more complicated than that?
Irina January 26, 2013 at 01:24 AM
Council President George Wittmann I stand with you 1000%. Good.....Sign the easement OR buy them yourselves. AND if your association buys a cheapo one and it breaches and you float away... Blame your associations!
Irina January 26, 2013 at 11:19 AM
Council President George Wittmann I stand with you 1000%. Good.....Sign the easement OR buy the dunes yourselves. AND if your association buys a cheapo dunes and they breach and you float away... Blame your associations!
Debbie Bury January 26, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Everyone who has a home in ortley beach should attend this meeting lets stop posting let's start reacting instead. pass this meeting information on Facebook and call all your neighbors and friend in ortley .See everyone their
Alex Simon January 27, 2013 at 05:01 AM
If this was actually about protecting the people from future storms...then you know what Toms River Would do? Anything they can to make it work. They wouldn't be playing this age old game to try and steal beachfront property owners land. Last year it was one story (nothing to do with dunes). This year it's a horrible tragedy that affected the lives of so many and they are trying to use that to suot their PR personal agenda. Toms River, if you want to protect the people so much. Get in there...get the dunes up. If you need to raise or lower people's property taxes to do it. Take meetings...make it happen. If the homeowners want to replace the dunes by themselves, they have every right and they need to. Focus on that. Stop trying to hand off some sand and think it entitles you to the land they have paid taxes on and maintained for a very long time. Your actual priorities are not veiled at all to anyone who is watching closely.
Alex Simon January 27, 2013 at 05:03 AM
Unfortunately...no one is saying their don't want dunes. Toms River is trying to manipulate the public to believe that. It is NOT true. EVERYONE wants dunes. Toms River is saying the ONLY option is for them to put the sand back and when they do...homeowners have to GIVE them their land. Homeowners want the dunes, they will pay more taxes, or they will put them up themselves. Homeowners will not hand over their land permanently to keep. And with the property taxes these beachfront families take...TR is foolish for truly biting the hand that feeds them. The town could never afford eminent domain. There is no money in TR for that so anyone who suggests this needs to move on...
Michelle V February 07, 2013 at 03:32 PM
This story is old news and whoever just wrote this obnoxious remark should know what is going on first. SCHOA has a private beach and we rebuilt our dunes at our expense already; high and strong enough. We also had dunes prior to Sandy which protected our homes from floating away. People on the mainland should not be worrying about the private beaches, they should be screaming at TR for NOT BUILDING DUNES prior to Sandy which caused all the damage to the island and the mainland. Mr. Councilman and anyone else that has something to say, get your facts straight. TR should be paying ORTLEY for all of our damage! They were negligent, not the private beaches.
Robert March 12, 2013 at 08:46 PM
I live in Ocean Beach 3 or I did pre Sandy.. The developer of the Ocean Beach property is refusing to sign an EASEMENT. If you want to know why, the developer JOHN M'DONOUGH has a lease with the HOA which makes them responsible. He has to pay nothing. He does not seem to care about the damage that has happen and will happen to us. Toms River should use EMINENT DOMAIN

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