Credit: Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
It's been a quiet summer in the Atlantic, weather-wise. But on the shore, there's a noisy argument taking place between Jersey shore property-owners who support a federal effort to build sand dunes between their homes and the water, and a minority of holdouts who fear that signing an easement to allow the work will take away too much from their property rights.
The New York Times is following the story here: ("Trying to Shame Dune Holdouts at Jersey Shore," by Kate Zernike). The question is personal for one store owner, the paper reports: "Anchor Produce Market sells homemade mozzarella, its own fresh salsa, and what many regulars swear is the best sweet corn on Long Beach Island. But, a sign on the counter declares, it will not sell anything to the owners of 63 Long Beach Boulevard, 7 Coast Avenue, 12 Sea View Drive South, or 34 other nearby oceanfront properties. Those owners have refused to grant easements to allow the federal government to build a massive dune along a 50-mile stretch of the Jersey Shore. Without the protective ridge of sand, engineers predict it is only a matter of time before homes, neighborhoods, even entire communities are wiped out by rising seas — a reality brought into stark relief by the devastation from Hurricane Sandy. So until they sign the easements, holdouts should buy their groceries elsewhere."
Despite the public, and sometimes personal, pressure, a few holdouts remain in most barrier island towns. But their options are dwindling after a New Jersey Supreme Court decision held that when a town seizes property for dune construction, the owner need not be compensated to the extent that the dune itself adds value by virtue of its protective nature. Mantaloking, where five holdouts remain, has announced its intention to seize the necessary rights from those owners, the Times reports. And in Ortley Beach, Tom Cangialosi, the treasurer of Surf Cottages Homeowners Association, says he thinks association members should read the writing on the wall. "There are some people who will be screaming and going down with the drum and fife," he said. "But anybody who really thinks about things and considers the alternative will see: they want this, they're going to do it. Your choice is sign, or face the consequences."