MANTALOKING, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A drive along the beach in the Jersey Shore town of Mantaloking reveals remnants of Sandy’s destruction.
More than 500 homes in the town were either damaged or destroyed and town officials said that they want to make sure that the town is protected from future storms.
The city council voted to begin the process of seizing portions of private beach front properties in order to build a 22-foot high sand dune on the beach, CBS 2′s Christine Sloan reported.
That decision has pitted the town against a handful of homeowners who believe that their constitutional rights are being violated.
“We don’t actually take their property. We take the right to access their property and put sand on it,” special counsel to Mantaloking, Chris Nelson explained.
The extreme measures were taken because seven property owners refused to sign easements to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to begin building the sand dune.
The dune will be covered in sea grass and have steel running through it.
“We’re putting a lot of sand in front of their property to protect them and their neighbors, people who are on the other side of the bay,” Nelson said.
Eminent domain attorneys told CBS 2′s Sloan that the issue is not about losing an ocean view but about the rights of property owners.
“This is a property rights issue. This is a constitutional issue,” attorney Richard De Angelis Jr. explained.
De Angelis has fought eminent domain cases in which the government has taken private property for the public good.
“These easements that have been presented to property owners are very vague. They don’t make clear provisions for even access to the beach,” De Angelis said.
De Angelis said that homeowners have been offered little money. Town officials said that they don’t think taxpayers should have to foot the bill.
“it is really a nominal amount. We’re not really planning on offering a lot of money,” Nelson explained.
Construction of the dune is set to begin in June even if both sides can’t reach an agreement.
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