The Christie Administration has filed its first eminent domain actions against beachfront property owners to secure easements that the USACE needs to build engineered beach and dune projects to protect lives, homes and businesses in the state’s economically vital coastal communities from severe storms and flooding, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin and Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.
These filings build upon the ongoing work the Christie Administration has been undertaking to secure easements necessary to construct these projects that are vital to protecting families, businesses and infrastructure.
The Administration has secured 90 percent of the 4,279 easements needed since Superstorm Sandy struck the state in October 2012. Only 388 easements, from 244 property owners, are still needed.
Work on coastal protection projects is underway along major portions of the shore, due in large part to the civic-mindedness of property owners who voluntarily provided easements.
“Owners of beachfront properties up and down the coast have overwhelmingly stepped forward and done the right thing,” Commissioner Martin said. “Unfortunately, a few holdouts continue to refuse to provide easements, forcing us to seek condemnation of portions of their properties so we can move forward with projects that will protect lives and property.”
“The property easements we have obtained, and the easements we still seek, are vital to coastal protection efforts that benefit all New Jersey residents,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “We appreciate that many property owners – clearly mindful of the destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy – have unselfishly donated easements for the greater good rather than engage the State in protracted litigation. But to those who continue to hold out, our message is that we remain committed to acquiring these easements as expeditiously as possible, and – consistent with a landmark Supreme Court decision issued in 2013 – without paying windfalls at the public’s expense.”
The eminent domain actions were filed in Ocean County Superior Court involving a property in Ship Bottom and in Cape May County Superior Court involving a property in Ocean City.