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Public Funds for Dune Replenishment Means Public Access

If the owners of private beachfront property in Ortley Beach want their dunes replaced by the township, they need to grant public beach access, township says.

Toms River has replaced the sand dunes on publicly owned oceanfront property in Ortley Beach that were washed away during Hurricane Sandy. The township is willing to extend the same courtesy to the owners of private beachfronts, too, but on one condition. And it’s not a small one.

According to township solicitor Ken Fitzsimmons, the township is legally prohibited from spending taxpayer funds to replenish dunes on private property destroyed by Sandy. That’s no longer a problem should the property owners grant the township an easement. As a condition of the easement, however, Toms River is requiring property owners to grant the township public access to the beach between the dunes and the Atlantic Ocean in perpetuity.

Suddenly, the private in private beaches no longer applies.         

Fitzsimmons said letters informing property owners of the dune replenishment bargain were mailed to about 30 different entities, among them residential property owners, business owners, and condo associations located along the ocean on Ortley Beach. So far, only two property owners have agreed to the township’s terms, one officially.

In all, Fitzsimmons said he’s been in contact with “eight or nine” lawyers representing property owners in Ortley Beach that would be impacted by the easement. Some property owners have yet to respond to an original letter and a follow up sent out by the township.

Toms River’s council members have been instructed to not discuss the details of the easement letters on the advice of Fitzsimmons. The council attorney also demurred when asked to explain the easements, saying that discussing the letters and the easement in detail would be unethical and could represent a conflict of interest moving forward.

Fitzsimmons did, however, provide the letters sent to Ortley Beach property owners without objection. From the follow up letter:

Private beaches that granted the easement would be included in the replenishment project. The easement is required by law because the Township is constitutionally prohibited from expending public funds to improve privately-owned properties.

The project has been underway for several weeks and is nearing completion and we have not received your response. This is your final opportunity to have your beach included in the replenishment project…otherwise your property will be omitted from the project and you will have to replenish your dune at your own expense, which likely will be substantial.

Dune replenishment began on Ortley Beach in November shortly after the township accepted a $1.3 million bid from Earle Asphalt Company. Toms River Engineer Bob Chankalian said dune replenishment on public property has been completed with the township now considering augmenting the tidal shelf to prevent the new dunes from being washed away.

Toms River is also one of several towns hoping to have the Army Corps of Engineers provide an assessment of the beachfront and contribute to new methods of storm protection in the months ahead. To do so, however, requires towns to submit applications and, in a sense, get in line for the Corps services. All of the townships dunes must have been replaced at the time of the application, making replenishment a time-sensitive issue.

Mr. ? December 14, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Interesting how I always hear barrier island residents complain about the lack of services they get from Toms River with the high taxes they pay. Now I am hearing it again when you say you paid for and own the beach and paid for and own the roads also, and all you get is garbage (twice a week in summer) and recycling! So the associations snow plow your own roads, police your properties, and own your own fire protection services? No wait, my taxes also pay for that, right? And who now is repairing damaged infrastructure? Is it the associations or Toms River? nothing personal and I am not looking for an argument - just saying.
TastyCakes December 14, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I hope that all the bickering between Toms River and the Ortley homeowners is resolved quickly because if another storm comes along before the dunes are completed you probably won't have a home to be fighting about.
shorefriend December 14, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Define Benny? A) Owns property on barrier island but not primary resident,- pays taxes and contributes to retail establisments B) Rents every year, contributes large amounts of money c) Visits occasionally I hate them term so darogatory, and unwelcoming. I bet if you ask any of the local business owners about Benny's they would tell you; "we can't survive with out them" I am a full time resident and I got to tell you there is not many living here after Sept 1st
Thomas A. Mathis December 14, 2012 at 04:17 PM
I would like to point out that the Toms River owned beaches have required the purchase of a beach badge of some type for at least the last 50 years. So all of you who are calling for free beaches are going to be disappointed. That will never happen here.
Rob December 14, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Very interesting reading with the varied opinions, but I don't think I've seen anyone say that it's OK to get ahead in this world. Why shouldn't someone be able to own property at the shore? Why should that person be considered some kind of jerk for having 2 homes possibly? It's about time we go in the other direction and think getting ahead should be the goal, instead of looking for a handout toward equality for all. Does it stink to see people have what you want? Of course! But then do something about it! As for the stuff about "owning the roads", I believe the association paid to have them put in. And before you start ranting 'spoken like one of the haves', I don't live on the island, I don't live at the beach, and I don't have 2 homes.
Pat S. December 14, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Mr.? FYI- when I had a car fire, it was Seaside Heights that responded, not Toms River. And please keep in mind that our tax dollars also are paying for those things that you mentioned. We're not looking for handouts, just what other taxpayers have come to expect!
beachfan December 14, 2012 at 04:44 PM
@ Ajv...please lose the bennys name. Such a demeaning and entitled attitude towards visitors of the town you live in. Are you treated that way when you vacation to other places? NJ shore communities live off of tourism from visitors. A visitor can pay $1000 - $5000 for a single week at a NJ beach home, which can be more than half of an owners property tax bill and insurance. Frequent visitors pay daily, weekly or seasonal badge and toll fees and local businesses depend on the revenue when they eat in their establishments or shop in their stores. Stop the eliteness because you are fortunate enough to own a home near the ocean. Appreciate the revenue that keeps your taxes reasonable living so close to the ocean.
Donna Griffin December 14, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Amen, SB Girl! My point exactly. It is no mystery as to why some beaches, all be it having sustained some damage, have not been decimated like Ortley. Keeping your fingers crossed is not a long-term strategy in maintaining the viability and security of an oceanfront community.
Donna Griffin December 14, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Pat S. - Shared services are paid arrangements. To say that you derive no benefit from Toms River is silly especially now when you need mainlanders more than ever in the rebuilding effort. Granted, the early days could have been handled better but let's face it, Ortley was HAMMERED by Sandy and NO ONE was prepared. Ortley residents could never fund this rebuilding effort on their own if they were their own municipality. Don't ever forget either that mainland properties took a massive hit as well and the majority of those homes were primary residences. Let's all put on our big girl/boy pants and get our beaches rebuilt to a degree that is in the long-term best interests of Ocean County residents.
beachfan December 14, 2012 at 05:50 PM
@shorefriend...Well said. Happy to hear that from a full time resident.
taxed-out-the-wazoo December 14, 2012 at 06:04 PM
I still defer to my previous comments above; the Township should protect the community and dump the sand. But, also as noted in other comments fed/state funds have been used by officials to assist in building/rebuilding other areas which are not open to the public without either a ticket or a fee (thereby limiting "public" access anyway). So, while I would NEVER agree to anything in perpetuity (btw - no one in the practicing and relevant legal field uses that language anymore...take a CLE class once in a while); if you do, charge a fee (like the Townships do). You can charge whatever you want and thus limit the access anyway. Also, as noted in my above comments....colleges receive public/taxpayer funds (state and federal) and use applications and tuition to limit its student body; entertainment venues throughout the State used public funds (fed and state) to assist in their building process and charge tickets for entry (while the public is allowed...it is limited to those who can afford to enter)....etc. Quite frankly, the Township does this, too, with its beach badge...it charges AND it has used public funds for a long time; similarly with regard Island Beach STATE Park.
Pat S. December 14, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Donna- my home in Ortley is my primary residence. Please don't assume that all the houses at the beach are only vacation residences.
Ajv December 14, 2012 at 10:26 PM
@shorefriend maybe since your such a fan we will put all the fing Bennys on your street so they can take up all parking, scream profanity all hours and use your front lawn as a urinal. Is that what your saying. Nice job
Ajv December 14, 2012 at 11:00 PM
@beachfan same for you let Benny stay on your street and use your front lawn for a toilet, if all your interested in is there money. Lets not forget the constant profanity spewing from their mouths. I sure you want your children exposed to all the Bennys positive behavior
Donna Griffin December 15, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Pat S - I am not assuming EVERY Ortley home is a vacation residence. What I am saying is that the mainland homes impacted by Sandy are primary residences at a significantly higher percentage than those in Ortley. No insult intended. Just a statement of fact.
Mark December 15, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Pat S......Fire protection is another example of how Toms River Barrier Island Taxpayers get riped off. Here's how the scam works. Toms River Barrier Island Taxpayers pay a portion of their real estate taxes for "fire protection". Combined, these homeowners pay approximately 1 million dollars. Toms River Fire District then "contracts" with the Seaside Heights Volunteer Fire Dept to provide fire protections for Toms River Barrier Island Communities...........the contract is for about $100,000! The nine hundred thousand dollar question is where does the "extra" $900,000. go?????????
Jack Wagon December 15, 2012 at 10:51 AM
Barrier islanders don't use schools, which are a significant part of prop. taxes. When it snows, TR makes 1 pass. TR response to the blizzard 2 years ago was a joke. It took an entire week for TR to even make 1 pass with a plow on my street. I don't pay part time taxes, but I get part time services. As a matter of fact, 1/3 of all TR taxes are paid by the barrier island, and no, they don't use many of the services. BTW - Fire protection is contracted out to Seaside Heights, because TR can't/won't respond in the off-season. A few years ago, part of Ortley even seceded to Lavallette because TR wasn't providing adequate and timely services such as snow plowing on their streets. The residents took TR to court and won because they proved TR neglect. TR isn't repairing infrastructure, JCP&L, NJNG, and the state are repairing most of it. I called public works last summer, and they said my house wasn't even part TR, and had no idea where my house even was on the island. Unreal. I'm all for secession, let the chips fall where they may. TR sucks, their response to Sandy sucks, and the mayor is a complete and total idiot.
Jack Wagon December 15, 2012 at 11:23 AM
Donna, it's the other way around, you need barrier islanders in TR. You always did, and you always will if you want to continue receiving the same standard of services you are accustomed to in TR. TR didn't hesitate in taking my November taxes to provide for mainlanders kids educations because of Sandy. My tax dollars have been disproportionately providing for the "mainland" for way too long. The mayor of TR could care less about the barrier island residents because they are not his real constituents and his response to Sandy has been horrendous at best compared to other Mayors who's real constituents are on the the barrier island. Lavallette, Seaside Heights & Park, Mantoloking, etc. mayors all answer directly to their constituents on the island. Not TR. This guy just sees the barrier island as the cash cow that it is. The TR website sucks for information too. I use reverse 911 for Lavellete to find out what is going on.
Jack Wagon December 15, 2012 at 11:23 AM
Access has also been very limited compared to every other township on the island. Seaside H & P is in every day, Mantoloking too. Lavellette is even moving back in FT today. TR still has this hokey schedule that is restrictive and inadequate. I have to drive an extra 20 miles over the Rt. 37 bridge to get to my house, because TR won't let their northern beach residents use the Mantoloking bridge. I'd be happy to secede from TR. Thrilled actually! The other towns are doing fine on the island, and with the best interest of the island in mind.
Chief Wahoo December 15, 2012 at 02:56 PM
You all have been financially raped for the past 20 years. Too bad you had to wake up because of a disaster. Your nightmare is just beginning as you will have to beat the machine to survive this. Property tax revolt is your best chance and the LOSS should become one barrier island township. Would have been smart to do this BEFORE a disaster but no one wanted to wake up from their fantasy world.
Nikki Lescavage December 27, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Take a look at the properties that were destroyed near the surf club. Those streets and homes were hit the hardest. That public dune system (toms river created and maintained) did not protect those homes. In fact that dune system probably even further impacted the dune system and community of vision beach. So why in the world would you want toms river to rebuild your dunes? Your shore community .i.e. private community build and maintained your own. Correct? Compare your damages to that of the homes that have public beaches and or dunes. Trust your association and your neighbors. Rebuild it yourselves if you want it done correctly.
We R TR December 27, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Hey taxed-out-the wazoo...My kids live in Ohio they can bring 20 of their friends to a football or baseball game, buy tickets and get in. Can they do the same on your "private beach". I don't think so. That is the difference. Just sayin.
Ana Prodani December 28, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Michelle, I beg to differ. VB dunes were 210ft x 150x 26ft. Our dune eroded thanks to the unprotected access ramp on Harding where the water first breached. The truth of the matter is that the private associations in Ortley had better dunes than TR.
Ana Prodani December 28, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Well said!
Ana Prodani December 28, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Thank you!!!!!!!!!!
Ana Prodani December 28, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Nikki, I completely agree. We are building our own. We have never taken a penny from TR. That said, my concern is that we are adjacent to TR public beach and the unprotected access ramp on Harding, therefore regardless of how high, or how wide we build our dune, it stands to be lost again if TR doesn't do something about the open access ramps on Harding, which all believe caused this mess. Our dune was the largest and oldest on the island but what good did that do us. The ramp is adjacent to our dune. The water breached on Harding and eroded all the dunes to the right and left.
Ana Prodani December 28, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Nick, Our dune was 150ft x 210ft x 26ft. It was braced by a bulk head. The dune has protected since 1947. We would have never lost it if TR had protected the beach access ramp adjacent to our dune.
Pat S. December 28, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Heard that the new Ortley Beach dunes are already half gone after Wed.storm. Has anyone seen the beach today?
Ana Prodani December 28, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Ortley....not only our sand, but how about the damage caused by the bulldozers to the homes when they went in and stole the sand! I guess they didn't think we all had pictures of the homes after the storm since it took weeks for them to grant us access. I have pictures of my house right after the storm and after the bulldozing. I can't beleive the damage caused by the town! My insurance adjuster took close ups of the bucket tooth marks in my house from the bulldozers.
Ana Prodani December 28, 2012 at 10:09 PM
No they don't. They're just angry that they can't afford to live there.

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