Monday, January 23, 2017

Beach protection case: Rocks vs. sand at Jersey Shore



Associated Press story by Wayne Parry:

BAY HEAD, N.J. (AP) — Oceanfront homeowners in this wealthy New Jersey shore enclave have so little faith in the government's ability to protect them from catastrophic storms that they've spent $5 million of their own money on boulders placed between their homes and the ocean.

Members of the group, which includes a national Republican fundraising powerhouse, wants a judge to exempt them from a plan by Republican Gov. Chris Christie to erect protective sand dunes along New Jersey's entire 127-mile coastline. Their homes lie in an area that was devastated by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

But they claim that parts of the town that had a rock wall underneath the sand fared better than those that didn't. And they are deeply skeptical of the ability and willingness of the federal and state governments to pay to maintain the dunes for the next 50 years.

On Feb. 6, they will go before the same Superior Court Judge who has already ruled in favor of Christie's administration. Judge Marlene Lynch Ford ruled last year that the state Department of Environmental Protection has the legal right to use eminent domain proceedings to seize strips of land from oceanfront homeowners who don't voluntarily sign easements allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out the work on their land.

The homeowners want her to allow them to opt out of the project, asserting that what they have done privately offers as much protection, if not more, than what the government proposes.

"We already have sand twice as big as what they say we need, with rocks underneath it," said Thacher Brown, a leader of the group. He estimated about 18 homeowners paid for the bulk of the rock wall, but noted that more than 100 residents contributed to it, including those who don't live on the ocean.

"I'm a firm believer that no rational, intelligent person can look at the two options — a big pile of rocks and a big pile of sand — and not see that ours is better," said resident Bob Hein.
Read the full story here

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