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Township: Public Meeting on Beach Easements Would Be 'Counterproductive'

Easements are required for public funds to be spent on replenishment of private beaches

Some residents want a public meeting to discuss the possibility of granting easements on their private property, allowing taxpayer funds to be spent on the replenishment of dunes wiped out by Hurricane Sandy.

Township officials, however, do not favor such a forum.

"To have one big open meeting would be counterproductive with 500 people," Council President Mo Hill said Wednesday night when a resident asked why township officials wouldn't talk about the issue in public.

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.

Residents and businesses aren't ready to give up private beach access without more information. Some, like Ortley Beach resident Pat Suriani, have lost much and are unsure of trusting the township. They want a public meeting on the issue.

"I don't understand why you won't meet with us," said Suriani, who was among the handful of the barrier island residents who wanted to talk about easements with township officials.

The council has repeatedly said during previous meetings that it cannot discuss easements with residents, as that could be seen as the township offering legal advice, something it cannot do.

But residents have said that they don't want advice. They just want a discussion. 

"I just don't understand why you can't talk to the taxpayers," Suriani said.

"We clearly articulated our position. We've given them documents," Fitzsimmons said. It is up to the homeowner association lawyers to present the information to those who live in the communities, he said. 

Residents in communities considering granting an easement should direct their questions to their lawyers, who would then speak with Fitzsimmons. The township solicitor is accessible and willing to meet with those attorneys, Hill said.

"I think that's the most productive way to do it," Hill said. 

"I'm asking the township — where I pay my taxes — to do the right thing and have a public meeting," Suriani said, her remarks drawing applause from some in the audience. 

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 has said dune replenishment on public property is completed with the township now considering augmenting the tidal shelf to prevent the new dunes from being washed away.

"If we get the easements signed, we can get the Army Corps of Engineers to come and rebuild the beach and rebuild the dunes," Hill said. "I think from all that we've heard, they're ready, willing and able but it's a problem with the easements."

A wider beach and 20-foot high dunes could prevent serious flooding like what was seen during Sandy. But it would only work if all of the about 30 entities along the beach in Ortley grant easements. If one or a few sections of dune are not built like the rest, rising waters would find a way inland, officials have said. 

Seaside Park, with its dunes of that size, experienced less damage compared to other coastal areas, Hill said. The Army Corps would dredge the ocean floor, pumping sand on to the beach. Officials have said that this would help to protect the barrier island and bayfront areas. 

"If we don't get these easements, they're not coming in," Hill said. 

Doug Bennett December 29, 2012 at 11:46 PM
I am not jealous and I am certainly not bitter. I certainly have no interest in building on a sand bar and I have no interest in paying for the morons that do. I think you morons should get off the beach and pay for all the damage your shacks and your garbage have done to the mainland.
Doug Bennett December 29, 2012 at 11:50 PM
As soon as you clowns get off the beach and let it go back to being the sandbar that God and Mother Nature intended than you won't have to worry about what Toms River does or does not do. One prognosticator on the weather channel said last night that he does not believe there will a single private home on the sand bar within 40 years. Take the money and run now is my suggestion.
Doug Bennett December 29, 2012 at 11:53 PM
If you people spent less on lawyers and more time realizing what the reality is, you would get off that sandbar and leave it as God and Mother Nature intended. You don't own the beach...you just think you do. The first warning shot has been fired. Expect God and Mother Nature to keep the war going until you surrender.
Doug Bennett December 29, 2012 at 11:58 PM
If you gave one tenth of what you cost this town with all the drunkenness, all the filth, the drugs, the arrests, the police presence then you might have some room to talk. The only time I can stand to go to the beach anymore is in the dead of winter and now you people have made it so I can't do that with all your cracker boxes floating in and destroying the bay and the river.
Pat S. December 30, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Doug Bennett- I guess you have to resort to calling people (you don't know, at that) names, as you don't appear to be able to grasp what is being said. Until you have the facts, and understand what is truth and what is hype, you should refrain from the kindergarten name-calling you have to hide behind! Ignorance is bliss-
Karen Haruthunian December 30, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Pat S. - I am an owner and on the board of Oceanside condominiums , I noticed on the toms river website they are willing to take meetings if there is an attorney present, I suggest all of the beachfront people unite with one attorney and make an appointment . I also think "Doug Bennett" is enjoying his provocative remarks , and we should stop giving him the attention he so despartley craves.
Stephanie Sevastakis December 30, 2012 at 03:00 AM
@Mark you are quite the critical one. Commenting on a Councilman's attire? Councilman Sevastakis and his family are also displaced from the storm. He is well aware of the problems this entire town is facing because of the storm. Maybe he was on his phone because listening to complaints for 2 months is "counterproductive," even if your tax dollars do contribute to his $8900. a year council salary
grace December 30, 2012 at 04:23 PM
lori, maria has a big job with the div of motor vehicles now..pizza to that go figure..anyway she is too busy to do both. she really should step down and give the job to someone who actually lives there!!
Green Is. December 30, 2012 at 04:48 PM
A Ha Ha Ha. I take it you do not know this man. He could care less , take that to the bank.
Lori Noel Lewkowitz December 31, 2012 at 07:16 AM
It is disrespectful to everyone while Councilman Sevastakis was busy clicking away on his cell phone during the 12/26/12 meeting, When I'm at work, either in a law office or court room, I turn my phone off. In some court houses it is required to check your phone at the door and take a ticket just like you would for your coat or jacket.
Lori Noel Lewkowitz December 31, 2012 at 07:26 AM
Wow, Karen H., that Doug Bennett person makes quite an argument for the proponents of gun control. LOL
Michael Capo December 31, 2012 at 07:56 PM
We should take the time to thank all of those good Christian people who during our crisis in this Christmas season extended us nothing but wishes for our houses to wash into the ocean.
Glenn Squire Vil. December 31, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Yes, I could see him doing that for sure. Too bad he is not up with the other four ward councilman next year, then we could get rid of five of them.
Mark December 31, 2012 at 09:41 PM
TR Voice of Reason: $8900 for showing up ( unless deemed "excused") for 12 meeting per year comes to about $750.00 per meeting....not a bad deal in my book. Oh and don't forget the "free" taxpayer funded medical insurance for him and his family...about 15K to 20K per year!
Ben H. December 31, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Mark, you should save your political retoric for next year. Do not forget we just had an election here in Toms River for 2 wards and the D's did not even put a candidate up in ward 3 and put up a recycled has been, that has never won or could win in ward 4. For the record the last two election the council and Mayors have won in a landslide. So it looks like the voters in TR don't really care about thoses issues.
Stephanie Sevastakis January 01, 2013 at 12:22 AM
Mark - Now you are getting into an area where you should do your homework. Council meetings are biweekly, along with numerous other meetings and duties that are involved in the position. Thank Goodness most people know and appreciate what the job entails. Another homework assignment, check to see if the beach outfitted Councilman has taken medical benefits since taking office 9 years ago. Wait, I will save you the trouble... he hasn't. He also hasn't taken the payout for not taking them. Don't believe me, ask him at the next meeting. If he is reading his township emails on his personal iPad or phone, I'm sure he will stop to answer you. If you are truly displaced from the storm like him, you know that there are not enough hours in the day to meet everyone's needs, so you do your best by multi-tasking. They all care about Ortley, Councilman Carr and Sevastakis were over there the day after the storm and many times since, there are just no easy answers so I understand your frustration but placing blame resolves nothing. This is my last response, have a Happy New Year and may it bring some answers to this devastating situation for all affected.
Doug Bennett January 01, 2013 at 10:12 PM
You are the ignorant one. I know exactly what is being said and I have responded as I feel. You just want to put down anyone who tries to tell you the truth which you are to stupid to comprehend and to ignorant to want to understand. Take you comment and stick them where the sun doesn't shine.
Doug Bennett January 01, 2013 at 10:14 PM
Yes, spend your money on an attorney. Spend it on a whole law firm. At least you wont be spending it on booze and drugs for a change. And not to far when the state tells you to get off the beach or drown you will do one or the other.
Nelson R. January 01, 2013 at 10:25 PM
Give it a rest, that because he get's his benefits from his spouse who is a public employee in Toms River, so we the tax payer still pay's for it.
Pat S. January 02, 2013 at 01:32 AM
DB- may all the wishes you've sent be returned tenfold to you. Happy New Year.
Michelle V January 02, 2013 at 03:30 AM
Funny how this obnoxious, nasty, evil little man has the initials DB....perfect for what they really stand for Douche Bag!!! Mr. DB, I hope you never venture your pathetic self over the bridge to our sand bar where we are all drunken slobs that pollute the beaches and landfills....you might run into one of us drug taking cracker jacks!
Lori Noel Lewkowitz January 02, 2013 at 04:53 AM
Pat S. and Michelle V: You folks crack addict me up. LOL. I'd send him a book on English grammar if I thought he was somewhat literate. Don't encourage him as this is, sadly, the most fun he's ever had in his life.
Pat S. January 02, 2013 at 05:49 AM
You're right, Lori, but it's fun playing around with DB's pathetic little rants. I just want to see how many slurs he can include in his diatribes- parasites, shacks, scum, dopes, morons, clowns, ignorant, stupid. What a master of the English language!
Doug Bennett January 02, 2013 at 09:26 PM
I hope not! I hope you all decide to stay with your cracker boxes in the next storm. Then we won't have to hear the whining of the clowns that want the government to rebuild their property but think the beaches are theirs exclusively. I look forward to the day that Ortley Beach looks like Island Beach State Park. Hang around for the next storm. It is coming and many after that. If I am a douche bag, I wonder who the recipient is? Or is your brain so addled from all the booze and drugs that you don't even know what a douche bag is? Please get help if you ever plan to have any children. I have seen what drugs and booze do to them. I have seen what it has done to kids over at the beach when I, unfortunately, found myself over there during the summer.
Doug Bennett January 02, 2013 at 09:45 PM
This is not any fun at all talking to and trying to reason with a bunch of misguided and arrogant fools. And for someone who wants to talk about grammar on a forum such as this where it is expected or at least anticipated that language or at least usage will be more colloquial, seems like you are grasping at straws, I would have you go back and look at a few of the posts you have left if you want to discuss grammar. If you truly work in a legal capacity (very doubtful), I feel sorry for the clients. That is unless you are the cleaning lady...then I just feel sorry for their health and hygiene. Otherwise, have a great day.
Doug Bennett January 02, 2013 at 09:49 PM
I think you hit them all so you must be very familiar with them. Do you have more words in your vocabulary like 'take responsibility' 'private property and its upkeep should be paid for by its owners' or orthers of the same vein. Btw, is douche bag in your vocabulary? Otherwise, have a great day.
Doug Bennett January 02, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Thank you Pat. I have but one wish, to see Island Beach State Park extend to the Bay Head border. I am looking forward to it and feel it has already started. I am glad you are hopeful as well. Have a great day.
Doug Bennett January 02, 2013 at 09:55 PM
I am still trying to figure out this comment. But since you have already told me that you are so much smarter than I am (at least grammar wise), perhaps you will explain it to me some time. Otherwise, have a great day.
Pat S. January 02, 2013 at 10:48 PM
Add "fool" to the list.
jerseystrong January 04, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Seriously, what other services do you not get that a homeowner in ortley gets outside of the private community? do the police come to your rescue if called? Will the fire department come to your house if it's burning down. I am a home owner in ortley and TAKE CARE of my property - driveway, backyard and all. I'm sick and tired of hearing about how you pay taxes and don't get any benefits. The town doesn't do anything different for me or anyone else. Sell your house and move someplace else. Good riddance.

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