Written by Carly Kilroy
Point Pleasant Beach Council members voted in favor of a proposed dune easement ordinance that will grant the federal Army Corps of Engineers access to the Maryland Avenue Beach, located on the south end of town
“This doesn't affect anybody but the Borough of Point Pleasant Beach's property. This is to grant the Army Corps the easement they need to get on borough property to construct dunes. This is the progression to getting this done,” Mayor Vincent Barrella said.
According to the ordinance, the easement is necessary for the Army Corps, in partnership with the State of New Jersey, to construct dunes in compliance with the Manasquan Inlet to Barnegat Inlet Storm Damage Reduction Project.
The project arose in response to the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy along the coasts of New Jersey back in October.
“This is a project that the Army Corps of Engineers wants to do that is going to afford Point Pleasant Beach a measure of protection,” Barrella said.
However, private beachfront owners have expressed their reluctance to sign the easements, particularly after a meeting held between residents and the Department of Environment Protection last Wednesday.
Members of the council last night expressed their concerns with last week's meeting with the DEP and the Borough's attorney, Sean Gertner, acknowledged that homeowners need to be provided with more information about the impact the easements will have on their property ownership before they are expected to sign them.
“It's blatantly unfair to ask a homeowner, given that meeting, to give an easement out without knowing how far the actual line is going to extend given the fact that there is this potential that a private property owner...potentially loses the right to utilize their beach,” said Gertner.
Council members are looking to sit down with the DEP to talk about these issues.
“Hopefully we can get a meeting with the [DEP] Commissioner and impress on him why Point Pleasant Beach is different,” Barrella said.
The reason Point Beach is so different from other shore towns participating in the project, some argue, is because unlike those other shore towns that own most or all of their beaches, Point Beach only owns a small portion of their own beaches.
Therefore, in Point Pleasant Beach, the Manasquan Inlet to Barnegat Inlet Storm Damage Reduction Project is more heavily reliant on private property owners signing easements, allowing Army Corps officials to build and maintain dunes along their properties than the Borough itself.
“This is a project that is of enormous importance, but it is of enormous expense...the federal government is offering to fund it. We need to find a way to make it palatable for people,” Barrella said.