In light of the damage caused by two nor’easter storms that have occurred since super storm Sandy, Mayor Kelaher and the members of the governing body are redoubling their effort to obtain signed easements from private property owners for dune and beach replenishment under the United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) program.
All private property owners of ocean front property in the Township will be receiving a packet of information containing the following information which is also posted on the township web site at this CLICK HERE FOR EASEMENT PACKET:
- Project Fact Sheet prepared by the USACE dated February 2012 describing the NJ Shore Protection Project from the Manasquan Inlet to Barnegat Inlet, NJ
- Final Feasibility Report and Integrated Environmental Impact Statement for the project
- Deed of Dedication and Perpetual Storm Damage Reduction Easement that property owners will be required to sign
- Questions and Answers pertaining to the project prepared to respond to the LBI Joint Tax Payer Association. The answers provide excellent insight into the project.
- Profile prepared by the Township Engineer showing the proposed USACE dune/beach replenishment project along with a comparison of the current dune/beach area.
Based on the damage sustained on the dune and beach areas from two “minor” nor’easter storms in the past 60 days, it is clear that the long term viability of the barrier island in Toms River is entirely dependent on the USACE project and there can be no further delay. The USACE project, once completed, will provide long term stability and peace of mind to all of the residents on the barrier island. The time has long since past when property owners can ignore the ongoing threat from storms. The entire barrier island and bay front properties are at risk until this work is completed.
There has been much misinformation circulating about the Township’s intentions in securing these easements. The sole reason for procuring the easements is to protect life and property on the barrier island, plain and simple. Without the USACE project, residents are at constant risk. Moreover, FEMA has advised that if the USACE improvements had been in place prior to super storm Sandy, very little, if any damage would have occurred on the barrier island and mainland areas. Secondly, FEMA has advised that flood insurance rates will actually be reduced once the enhanced dunes and beach area is in place. Further, the USACE will maintain the dune/beach areas every 4 years as necessary for the next 50 years, which offers long term stability for properties impacted from storm events. The benefits far outweigh any perceived detriments. In an effort to set the record straight, the township is providing the following assurances to property owners.
- As mentioned above, the purpose of securing the easements is to facilitate the USACE project as soon as possible to protect life and property. The Township will not be constructing any facilities within any public easement areas including, but not limited to, parking areas, rest rooms, concession stands, or any other facilities of this type. In accordance with the legal provisions in the easement, there will be no construction within the easement area other than the dune/beach replenishment.
- Private associations which currently charge for beach badges can continue to do so if the easement is signed. There is no change to that policy in the easement. Moreover, private associations will continue to set the rules and regulations for use of the beach.
- Township issued beach badges are not “transferrable” and will only include access to the Township-owned beach area and will not extend to beach areas under the jurisdiction of private beach associations, regardless of whether or not an easement has been signed for dune/beach replenishment.
Private property owners who decline to sign the easements do so at their own peril now. Based on the serious threat to the health and safety of the residents and property owners, the Township is exploring all viable legal options to facilitate this project. Without the enhanced protection from the USACE project, the erosion of the beach and dune areas will continue and at a given point in time, it will no longer be feasible from an engineering or financial standpoint to re-build the dunes. Moreover, unless the beach area is protected by way of the USACE project, it will no longer be feasible for the township to rebuild township facilities such as the boardwalk or rest room facilities that sustain damage in the future.