NJ Aggressive in Using Eminent Domain

The Christie Administration has filed an eminent domain action against the city of Margate to secure an easement encompassing 87 municipally-owned lots required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to construct engineered beach and dune projects to protect lives, homes, businesses and infrastructure from storm surges and flooding on Absecon Island.

The federally funded coastal protection project on Absecon Island that would protect Margate and neighboring Longport and a portion of Ventnor has not been able to start due to outstanding easements, most of which are needed from Margate.

The Administration has secured more than 90 percent of the 4,279 easements needed for these projects voluntarily from property owners. But 366 easements, held by 239 property owners still must be secured.

Work on coastal protection projects is under way along major portions of the shore, due in large part to the civic-mindedness of property owners who voluntarily provided easements to allow USACE to place sand on their properties.

A federally funded storm damage reduction project on Absecon Island that would provide protection to Absecon and neighboring Longport and a portion of Ventnor has not been able to start due to outstanding easements, most of which are needed in Margate.

The eminent domain actions were filed in Atlantic County Superior Court and involve easements over all city-owned properties east of the Margate bulkhead, south of Ventnor and north of Longport. There are still 10 easements outstanding from private owners in Margate. Eminent domain filings for those properties are going through the appraisal process.

The bulk of the remaining easements needed for coastal protection projects are in northern Ocean County, one of the areas hardest hit by Sandy. Of the 283 outstanding easements needed there, 123 are in Bay Head and 68 are in Point Pleasant Beach.

Last year, USACE, in partnership with DEP, completed eight post-Sandy beach repair projects, returning roughly 45 miles of previously engineered and constructed beaches along the New Jersey coast to their original protective construction design at a cost of $345 million.

USACE and DEP are currently undertaking a $128 million beach and dune construction project on Long Beach Island; a $57.6 million beach and dune project in southern Ocean City, the Strathmere section of Upper Township and Sea Isle City in Cape May County; and a $38.2 million project to construct beaches and improve infrastructure in the area of Loch Arbour, Allenhurst and Deal in Monmouth County.

Work has yet to begin in Margate, Longport and parts of Ventnor on Atlantic County’s Absecon Island; in southern Long Branch and northern Deal in Monmouth County; and in the northern Ocean County municipalities of Point Pleasant Beach, Bay Head, Mantoloking, Brick, Toms River, Lavallette, Seaside Heights, Seaside Park and Berkeley.

A $202 million project to protect Union Beach, Monmouth County, with flood walls, levees, beaches and pumps, is expected to be launched next year.