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Related News, Article taken from The Atlantic City Press

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

HEADLINE: $480,000 assessment for dunes easement could end beach fills Written By DONNA WEAVER Staff Writer | Posted: Thursday, December 3, 2009

HARVEY CEDARS — Mayor Jonathan Oldham said Thursday beach replenishment projects in New Jersey will end quickly if oceanfront homeowners are entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars for easements needed to complete them.

A panel of condemnation commissioners awarded the owners of a Harvey Cedars oceanfront property $480,000 Wednesday as compensation for an easement needed for a $25 million beach replenishment project. The panel determined that was fair compensation for the loss of value in the property when a 25-foot dune gets built between their home and the ocean. The borough had valued the easement at $300. Oldham said the borough will appeal the ruling. Having to pay homeowners large sums for easements would add greatly to the cost of beach projects and discourage towns from seeking them, he said.

Martin Flumenbaum and Ruth Hochberger were awarded the $480,000 by a panel appointed by Assignment Judge Vincent Grasso to determine the value of the property the owners would lose when a 25-foot dune is built. Flumenbaum and Hochberger own a two-story home on East 83rd Street that is assessed at $2,674,200, according to Ocean County tax records. Their attorney contends they will lose an 8,500-square-foot portion of the property.

“I was surprised by the amounts. To go from $300 to $480,000 is ridiculous,” Oldham said “No matter what the rulings are, we’ll appeal and appeal until we can’t appeal any more.” The borough is in the middle of badly needed beach-replenishment project that began shortly after the Veterans Day northeaster that caused heavy erosion here and elsewhere along the coast. In February, Donald Molliver, an appraiser hired by the borough, valued eight easements at $300 each. The properties were condemned during the eminent domain process begun by the borough last July. A $25 million beachfill project started last month here, only after officials pursued eminent domain to obtain easements, granting access to complete the project to the state Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“It’s the chance you take with eminent domain. We knew what the process was, going into this,” Oldham said. Attorney William Ward, who represents Flumenbaum and Hochberger, said Molliver testified there was no damage to the remaining property from the taking of easements. Appraiser Louis Izenberg of Parsippany, Morris County, testified on behalf of the property owners that $480,000 would adequately compensate for the loss of ocean view and damage to the property, Ward said. “We have always felt that the town did not do an appropriate appraisal of the value of the easement. The $300 appraisal was not made in good faith,” said Flumenbaum.

Flumenbaum said the effect on his home is significant because the dune that will be constructed in front of his home will dramatically cut off the ocean views from one full floor of his home, he said.

Oldham said it doesn’t make sense for oceanfront homeowners to receive large payouts for easements because they gain protection for their homes with beach replenishment. “This will really be about the whole island and all of New Jersey. If during the appeal process someone gets a large award, beach replenishment is over,” he said. Harvey Cedars and other shore towns frequently battle beach erosion like that caused by a four-day northeaster last month.

Ward said the biggest difference between the two sets of appraisals was that Izenberg argued that the loss of view due to the construction of a 25-foot dune would diminish the value of the property. “These dunes will impact the view, there’s no doubt about that. The real estate market recognizes the ocean and its value,” said Ward. If the borough exhausts its appeals and the award ruling stands, Harvey Cedars will have to pay out the money to the homeowners, according to Oldham. Ward said Harvey Cedars has 20 days from Wednesday, the date of the panel’s award, to file an appeal. Then the appeal will go to a jury trial on the value of the damages, he said. “The appeal will probably get docketed in January with a trial date probably set in May,” said Ward.

The Supreme Court heard a similar case Wednesday. Six homeowners in Florida’s panhandle are asking that the state be forced to compensate them for their property, which Florida law had long recognized as extending to the water line at high tide.

The Associated Press contributed to this report Original Article –

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