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Mantoloking Plans To Use Eminent Domain To Get Land From Homeowners

All Oceanfront Property Owners Must Sign Off On Plan To Build Protective Dunes

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Superstorm Sandy

MANTOLOKING, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Nearly six months after Hurricane Sandy, Mantoloking is putting the pressure on some homeowners to move forward with rebuilding.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported Wednesday, dozens of homes have been demolished, and others were in the process of being torn down this week.

Mantoloking is planning to use eminent domain to take control of small strips of land from oceanfront homeowners holding up a beach replenishment project, CBS 2 reported. A 22-foot dune will be constructed along the beach.

“We’re going to give it all that we can. We’re going to call them up and the governor even offered to call some of these folks up to try to convince them,” said Chris Nelson, who is leading the rebuilding effort.

Every single oceanfront property homeowner must sign off and give up a part of their beach to build protective dunes.

“They’re at about 13 feet when they used to be between 18 and 20 and we need to get them back up,” Nelson said. “It’s absolutely critical that we get dunes up in front but a large beach as well to protect our homes and homes behind the barrier island.”

However, around five homeowners were still holding out this week.

“In the event folks don’t sign the easements — and we sincerely hope they do — we will work with the state and our own attorneys to file eminent domain proceedings against them,” said Town Council attorney Chris Nelson.

Ned Voss, who owns a home on the beach, said he is on board.

“The dunes have to be built to protect these people,” he said.

Right after Sandy, as an emergency measure, the town built a 13-foot dune along the ocean. The 22-foot dune would block the first-floor view of many homes and others along the beach.

An attorney representing some of the residents who have not signed easements said some homeowners will lose access to the beach, and others half of their land.

“Why should the affected owners be required to donate their property?” the attorney said. “If the project benefits the public good, the public as a whole must bear the expense.”

Edward Smith disagrees, since his home along the bay was damaged because of the ocean.

“I think everybody should sign it, and anyone who doesn’t is doing a big disservice to the rest us,” Smith said.

Nelson said the dunes would leave more than 300 feet of beach. But he said for now, homeowners are not being offered money for their properties.

That would change if land were seized under eminent domain.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not start work until everyone has signed over a chunk of their beach, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.

“We’re hoping we can change their minds in the next couple of days,” Nelson said.

Homeowners have until Friday to submit completed easements.

Hundreds of homes were damaged during the Oct. 29 storm and the ocean cut a channel through to Barnegat Bay, dividing the town in two. That channel has since been filled in.