Lawmakers tout proposal in wake of dune ruling from high court

Three lawmakers called for action on their proposal in the wake of this week’s court ruling regarding compensation to homeowners when beach replenishments are conducted.

Tenth District Republicans Sen. Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin touted a bill they sponsored, A3896/S2618,  that they say would strike a balance between the interests of the state and property owners.

Earlier this week, the state Supreme Court ordered a retrial in the case of a couple who originally received $375,000 in a jury trial over their claims that a dune construction project ruined their ocean view.

The court said the town of Harvey Cedars was improperly denied a chance by a judge to present evidence that the dune work actually enhanced the property value by protecting it from major storms.  The property did survive Superstorm Sandy last year.

“If Sandy taught us anything it’s that sand dunes provide a successful line of defense against storms,” said Holzapfel in a release.

“The entire town of Mantoloking was pretty much destroyed because they lacked dunes, however, Midway Beach in Seaside Park was left virtually untouched because it was protected by a strong dune system.”

The bill would supplement the state’s Eminent Domain Act to provide that just compensation for an easement over a portion of beachfront property condemned for the purpose of dune construction or beach replenishment must include consideration of the increase in value to the entire property due to the added safety and property protection provided by the dune or replenished beach.

The sponsors also said that the bill would provide that any additional rights of the public to access property held in the public trust arising as a result of the easement, or the dune construction or beach replenishment, would not be considered to cause a diminution in the value of the entire property.

The legislation was introduced in March and is awaiting committee hearings.

“Many beachfront homeowners support the construction of dunes because they know they are necessary to protect their property,” Wolfe said. “This bill provides an equitable balance between their rights and the need to keep all residents from harm.”

Lawmakers tout proposal in wake of dune ruling from high court