The finishing touches on the Beach Replenishment Project in Brant Beach, on Long Beach Island, are going on as I write this. As this article on the Barnegat-Manahawkin Patch points out, “homeowners and beachgoers apparently are giving the project an overall “thumbs up.” And why shouldn’t they? Their beach is nearly twice as wide as is was before, and homeowners along the Oceanfront are much more protected from tidal surge.
But it is not all good news on the Beach Replenishment front. The New Jersey State Surpeme Court has decided to hear Harvey Cedars’ appeal to the ruling earlier this year that awarded an oceanfront homeowner $375,000 because the project diminished the value of their home by taking away some of their ocean views. You can read more about the judgement here.
This ruling threatens to end beach replenishment all together. Local municipalities will not be able to afford such awards going forward, so they may scrap future projects so as not be held liable for diminished property values because of the wider dunes.
As you can see, the replenishment left the Oceanfront homes much more protected from tidal surge than it was before. This is the reason the original ruling makes no sense. They awarded the money because they say their house diminished in value some $500,000, to $1.4 million. So in essence, the homeowner would rather run the risk of losing their entire house, valued at that price, because of some diminished views. By awarding this judgement, the courts are saying that oceanviews are more important than protecting the homeowners.
Now these people in Harvey Cedars have the best of both worlds. They have $375,000 in their pocket, a house that is more protected from the ocean, and much a wider beach.
No wonder the municipalities are debating whether or not to do any more replenishment. As Mayor of Long Beach Twp Joe Mancini said in the article referenced above, “the town won’t be able to afford to pay an average $300,000 for each of the 200 easements it needs”. He also adds “Sixty million dollars in awards when you only have a $22 million budget, the math doesn’t work”.
If I was an Oceanfront homeowner, having increased protection for my multi-million dollar home is much more important, than losing a little of my view of the ocean.
Let’s hope the New Jersey State Supreme Court sees it that way too.