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Ortley Easement - Who's Side Are You On

The easement difference between the township and private and beach associations owners

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the dunes in Ortley Beach. I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who took the time to read it and especially those who posted comments both pro and con. The feedback is very much appreciated. The purpose of writing and posting my thoughts on the Patch is to try to get people engaged in the rebuilding of Ortley Beach and protect ourselves and our Town from future storms.

Those two words rebuild and protected have different meanings to different people. To me rebuild means to do the rebuilding in a smart, sensible and affordable way.

The way we rebuild our dunes directly affects the flood zones, types of foundations to be used as well at the building elevation. How we rebuild and to what elevation directly affects our flood insurance premiums. The decision on how our dunes are rebuilt has to be based on the best possible dune/ beach replenishment system available. The best knowledge available on how to build the dunes should be used. The ability to maintain the dune/seawall and replenish the beaches has to be based on the ability of all concerned parties to work together. We owe it to ourselves to install the best protection system available.

The Beach front property owners and their Beach Association’s that took the liberty to rebuild their dunes should be congratulated. They say they alone took on the responsibility to rebuild their private dunes. They go on to say, they used their own money to rebuild these dunes. I have to say thank you for your hard work and financial contribution to the public safety.

Now comes the part where those of you who own or are involved with private beach front property owners start to disagree with me. The sole purpose for having the Army Corps of Engineers build and maintain the beach dune/seawall replenishment system is to have one unified system. This system would have one
group in charge of building and replenishing the system. I hope you can see how important that is. Katrina is a proven fact that their system works.

Suppose three or more powerful storms (Nor’easters) hit our shores in a four month period. Does anyone really want the repair or replenishment of our first line of defense left up to a property owner who may not have the necessary cash on hand or resolve to repair the damage? What about the beach property owner
who doesn’t live in the area on a full time basis? What if their repair doesn't hold up? What is the course of action for people who depend on that section of dune? In some cases one owner may have their own idea how the dune should be built, and maybe their dune will not join up with the design of someone else. Don’t you think that is way too many factors and variables to worry about?

One design by a group that has the expertise pertaining to this matter has to be better than multiple designs. We cannot have the same multiple dune system we had before Sandy. It’s a proven fact that in a lot of cases the dunes just did not hold up. The definition of insanity is, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” What about the mindless waste of money involved? So please let us all stop the insanity.

There were some comments that were made against the easement issue I agree with, if these comments are found to be true. My questioning the truth of the
comment is not because I think the person(s) lied, but the reason I question all the comments about the easement issue is the proven lack of upfront truthful information. I blame the confusion on a misinformed public. The hot tempers affect clear judgment. I blame the hot tempers on the person(s) or
agency(s) in charge of the easement issue. No one in Government is informing the general public on the particular issues involved with beach easements. What rights are the land owners giving up? Are the public demands on the beach front property owners outrageous? Could the demands being made make it impossible for a reasonable person to sign? Unfortunately, we the general public cannot answer those questions. No wonder tempers are raging, no one knows the facts.

The general public does not know what is involved in signing these easements. For all we know a lot of beach front property owners may want to sign on, but the demands are just too great. We as a general public must be informed. The beach easement issue directly affects us all. The government agency in charge has to post or make public in a clear concise way what is expected from the property owners asked to sign the easement. We don't even know if each Township has added a separate list of demands to their easement issue.

All I know is that the Army Corps of Engineers are able and willing to build a dune/ beach replenishment system and maintain it for 50 years. There will be no cost to the property owner. In some cases Jon K. Miller Ph.D. said that the beach needs to be enlarged. Beach front property owners and their association get to keep their money, and possibility in some cases get their property enlarged. Sounds like a win, win situation to me.

You do not have to be a mental giant to figure this one. Without even knowing the demands, I smell the Township pushing their personal political agenda. If the demands were fair, the deal would be too good to pass up. If the property owners were being unreasonable, I’m sure the Township would be speaking to any media outlet that is available, blasting the property owners for being a bunch of hard nose, selfish individuals who are too demanding. All we hear the Township say is that our safety depends on getting the dunes built. The Townships are not posting any of the demands to get the public on their side.

The mayor of Toms River was interviewed on Comcast. He had the chance to state what demands were being asked in return for signing the beach easements. Instead he said that he had truck load after truck load of sand brought in for the public beaches. They did the same thing after the Veterans Day storm of 2009. If you all remember that storm, sand trucks were lined up for miles. The dumping and placing of sand took weeks. The next major storm a few weeks later washed most of the sand away and in some cases all the sand washed away. The Township put back what seemed like half as much sand to replace the washed away sand. Does anyone remember sand being replaced after Irene hit. So now by the time Sandy hit there was hardly any dunes or beach left, (just a little walk down memory lane) They can’t continue doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The dune system we had was totally dysfunctional over time. What about the mindless waste of money involved? What happens with this new dune when FEMA money runs out and we still don’t have a proper dune system? Where does the money come from then? Who pays? So please let us all stop the insanity. (Remember the definition of insanity; doing same thing etc.).

The mayor offered no reassurances to the beach front property owners, except to say the town would not open any hot dog stands. I know it is cool to be glib, but in this case real cool is just being candid. In all fairness to the mayor he was being interviewed and could only answer the questions asked. Since the purpose of the interview was, the "state of the dunes and the progress being made on the beach easement issue." This interview turned into another missed opportunity (for this I blame the interviewer) to ask specific informing questions about the public/private dune easement situation. The mayor too, is also to blame, for he had his chance to publicly state the Townships list of demands that are involved with the signing of the beach easements. This could have finally ended the controversy over the dune easement issue. But again, another missed opportunity. The only rhetoric you hear from the Township is how the beach front property owners are holding the rest of us hostage.

Now until I hear or read the bill of particulars that pertain to the beach easement issue, I for one, am going to a neutral corner. I strongly suggest that you all do the same. We are all taking one side or the other. In my opinion, we are just arming ourselves with a lot of misinformation and the only thing we are accomplishing is a stale mate.

The issue of beach easements is a very important issue that needs to be settled as soon as possible. We need to know all the facts and if each side is bargaining in good faith. With all that being said, I feel the Army Corps of Engineers is our best source of protection. No one can argue with the one dune, one system and one group responsible for the next 50 years. It just seems to me that one side is trying to take advantage of the other. Our personal safety and general welfare should not depend on one side or the others petty demands but on the safety of the Town. Therefore, I am requesting the Townships to make their beach easement demands public. Once the demands are known the public can make an informed decision. I for one would like to know who is playing games with our safety and welfare.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

pam boyd February 25, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Yes I would like to know the trueth the beaches need to be enlarged. make the streets dead ends and fill in the roads to make the dunes larger and the beach.
baseballchamps February 26, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Maintaining a dune system is an awsome task that needs to be done as a normal routine like taking out the trash. But these homeowners associations are subject to the wims of their leaders and often may not have the resources necessary to maintain an effective dune system. It is in the best interest of the entire community to have the army corp of engineers do it for all. The argument that the beach view will be destroyed is true but enevitable as all beaches need dunes for the safety of all.
Beach Lover February 26, 2013 at 02:10 AM
In Ortley, this is the only real choice. just look to the north to Lavallette and you will see that they have a pretty good system. Ocean Terrace needs to be surrendered to the dunes.
Donna Griffin February 26, 2013 at 06:52 AM
baseballchamps - Midway Beach Association certainly did a significantly better job of protecting their private properties by maintaining an aggressive dune structure than did Ortley Beach/Toms River. I think that there is a lot to be learned with this storm and until the Army Corps of Engineers can demonstrate that their dune/sea wall structures are any better than those of Midway, Seaside Park or portions of Lavallette, I'd say everyone on the barrier island needs to demand the best dune protection at the best price with the least intrusion into property ownership rights. Afterall, even the sea wall in Sea Bright breached with this storm.
Irina February 26, 2013 at 03:43 PM
SIGN THE EASEMENTS....
Martin February 26, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Why isn't Christie having FEMA do this in NJ? I'd take 105% of my pre-flood value in a second! "Gov. Cuomo said yesterday that 169 of 192 residents of Staten Island’s storm devastated Oakwood Beach have taken him up on his offer to buy out their Sandy-ravaged homes. "The people who live in the battered neighborhood have been enticed by a deal that will pay them 100 percent of their damaged home’s prestorm market value — plus 5 percent if the homeowners stay on Staten Island, Cuomo said. The feds will pick up 75 percent of the tab."
Michael Capo February 27, 2013 at 03:21 PM
The TR Mayor is happy to let the arguing between the mainlanders and the islanders continue to mask TR's culpability in the destruction caused by Sandy. Look at the shameful video on the TR township website. He said that where there were "gaps" in the dunes, thats where the destruction happened. He was happy to let everyone think that those "gaps" were on the private beaches. He was happy to hide the fact that Harding Avenue in Ortley beach saw some of the worst destruction of the storm because the dunes were not maintained by Toms River. It was their responsibility to maintain those dunes, not the private beach associations. They failed. He talked about class action lawsuits against Associations. If anyone deserves to get hit with a class action lawsuit its him and the TR government for not maintaining their public beach dune system after taking badge revenue for years. He also made it sound as though TR was trying to meet with the Associations. The fact is at a Dec 26 TR town council meeting, he said it would be counter productive to meet with the Associations. This guy is either out of touch with reality or just a liar. Anyone who watched that video should understand that Ortley Beach is screwed. Not because of Sandy, but because of the quality of government we get from Toms River. The list of reasons for Ortley to secede from Toms River gets longer everytime this Mayor opens his mouth.
Michael Capo February 27, 2013 at 03:38 PM
The other fact that the Mayor of TR and most news articles ignore, or cover up, is the set of conditions contained in the "easements " or how the Beach Associations (at least ours) were approached.. 1.TR contacted us the tuesday before thanksgiving saying they would build the dunes on our private association only if we signed an easement. They wanted an answer by the following Monday. Tha'ts 5 days over a holiday weekend to get over 200 families to make a decision. All 200 families are not full time residents. Getting that answer in 5 days over a holiday weekend was almost impossible. TR knew that. 2. As for demands, TR said the Associations needed to give full public access but continue to PAY INSURANCE, LIFEGUARDS AND MAINTENANCE ....ON WHAT WOULD BE A PUBLIC BEACH!!!!! 3 They would not clarify what kind of dunes they would build. 4 If we had any questions, the Town Attorney would not talk to us, only through a lawyer. 5 The Mayor said at the Dec 26 TR town council meeting that meeting with the Associations would be "counterproductive" How does that help? Forget the private Associations..the people of Ortley Beach and parts of the mainland deserve far better , professional behavior from their town officials.They are not getting it from the current administration. So having seen the futility of dealing with Toms River in an open, honest, fair way, we built our own dunes. We care more about all of Ortley that they ever did or ever will.
Michael Capo February 27, 2013 at 03:38 PM
Also, just a point of clarity, if the Army Corps of Engineers lengthens the beach, it does not add to the Associations' property. It adds to the public portion. The private beaches are a finite area of land, clearly described on the tax maps of Ocean county. Their property ends at a defined distance from a marked point both in lenght (north to south) and depth (east to west) . After that it is public domain. The private portion wouldnt grow with beach widening , the public portion would.
Michael Capo February 27, 2013 at 04:38 PM
I would consider that too.
Michelle Blamble February 28, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Leaving aside TR's culpability (& believe me I'm the last person to defend them!) doesn't this whole discussion highlight how preposterous the whole idea of a private beach is. The fact of the matter is that dunes are too important to leave in the hands of private property owners - witness zero dunes in front of the condos on 2nd St. I think the state needs to declare all beaches state parks and eminent domain any disputed beach needed for Army Corp dunes. Absent that, any privately maintained dunes should be declared the owners responsibility - as well as responsibility if their dunes are breached resulting in damage to other property owners. That should tip the balance in favor of signing easements. I'm on Third Street and between the lack of dunes by the condos and the inadequate dunes on the public beach we had no protection at all... That said, if the demands on the easement were truly that onerous (and I agree I wouldn't sign what's been described here) why hasn't there been a story publicizing the verbage and increasing pressure on TR to be more reasonable?
TomsBoy February 28, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Michelle Blamble, I have to agree with everything you said. The problem with the dunes before Sandy was there were none to speak of. I feel if we all don't push fair easements we will face the same flood danger from the next big storm. Let's stop all the gamesmanship. Safety and general welfare comes first.
TomsBoy February 28, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Michelle Bramble, I forgot to say thank you for taking the time to comment.
MRX March 01, 2013 at 11:46 AM
No matter what is said about the dunes and Ortley beach and the associations, in order to build and rebuild there has to be a master plan. I am not going to spend thousands of dollars and sign papers saying I have to go up with my house within four years if TR and the State Government can't tell me how they are going to protect the coastline. In building you have to start with a solid foundation. In rebuilding you have to start with a solid plan on how are you going to protect the next wave of new buildings before you start. After four months I still don't have a clue about anything, however if you look at the towns that are NOT CONNECTED to Toms River they are functioning. What is Toms River not doing right?? Some kind of wall (no road)should be put on Ocean Terrace and a dune over it then maybe we can start rebuilding.
letsgetreal March 01, 2013 at 12:12 PM
Look the bottom line here is that UNLESS the easements are signed there will be no beach replenishment by the Army Corps PERIOD. I went to the Senate hearing at Toms River 3 weeks ago and the Colonel was VERY CLEAR...no easements NO REPLENISHMENT for any beaches on the coast. He said that the study alone will take 2 years so maybe all these attorneys can get there heads together and work out an agreement but to stand fast and not sign them at some point is going to do more harm than good. You want your private beach fine I have no problem with that but there is a sacrifice that comes with that. Sacrifice means taking a risk and not knowing exactly what the outcome is going to be! Either you sign the easements or bottom line there will be no beach it cannot be more simple than that. Put pressure on your attorneys to start pressuring the towns attorney to get it done. If your waiting for local GOV to make monumental moves then well we are all wasting our time here. And NO I am not slamming any of you that live by the private beaches or those who want to make sure that your covered legally. At some point someone in the Associations has to go to the next level and request that State step in and maybe assist in brokering a logical deal here.
Ortley Joe March 03, 2013 at 12:57 PM
Free Ortley Beach
Irina March 30, 2013 at 05:58 PM
"TR's culpability in the destruction caused by Sandy" That's got to be the most laughable statement I've seen in a long time. Sign the easements OR I pray the government TAKES your property.
Irina March 30, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Go, leave.... we don't need ortley....When you start a police department, post office BOE, town council and you find it was a bargin to be part of TR. We in Toms River will get a much deserved....LAST LAUGH!!!! Don't let the door hit you inthe rump on the way out the door!!!!! SIGN THE EASEMENTS!!!!
Ortley Joe March 31, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Hey, I Have Spoken. Give the people a non revokable stipulation that the beach will remain theirs and that Toms River, the State and the US Government can not tell them what to do with or how to use there beach. Now go stick your head in the sand.
George March 31, 2013 at 02:15 PM
It's not "their" beach. It's not "their" ocean. For the safety of tens of thousands of lives and properties, the selfish few hold-outs have to sign easements or face eminent domain from the governor. Raise your oceanfront houses and you can still see over the new dunes!

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