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State Lawmaker Among Brick's Oceanfront Easement Holdouts

Assemblyman: more information is needed before signing.

One of Brick Township's 63 oceanfront homeowners who has failed to sign an easement that would allow a dune and beach replenishment project to go forward is a New Jersey state lawmaker.

Jack McKeon, a member of the state's General Assembly from Essex County, has not signed the documentation that would allow a protective dune to be constructed in front of his oceanfront home on Sunset Lane in township's South Mantoloking section.

McKeon, a Democrat who previously served as West Orange mayor and has been a member of the Assembly since 2002, now has until Aug. 1 to sign the easement or risk having the township make good on Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis' threat to begin legal proceedings to take the slivers of land in order to allow the replenishment project to go forward.

Public records obtained by Patch showed McKeon and his wife have owned the home with another couple since 1994, on which $34,866 in property taxes were paid in 2012.

Repeated attempts to reach McKeon through his spokesperson were not successful. His office did, however, release a statement in which he said he was not against the dune project.

“All we are seeking is a basic 'meets and bounds' description, which tells us where the dune will be located on the property, before we sign off on an easement in perpetuity,” he said.

“Mayor Acropolis, who has been doing his best under extraordinary circumstances, told residents at a public meeting earlier this year that were he a beachfront property owner, he would not sign off on the easement without knowing where the dune line is,” McKeon continued. “The township has reported to residents that it cannot provide the information to us and that we should inquire with the Department of Environmental Protection. I am hopeful that we will get the information back prior to the mayor’s Aug. 1 timeline and move forward together.”

The dune line information McKeon referenced has already been published on Brick Township's website, however.

Brick officials have said the federally-funded beach and dune project would protect residents of both the township's barrier island and mainland sections from ocean breaches in future coastal storms. During Superstorm Sandy, an ocean breach in nearby Mantoloking Borough has been blamed for flooding thousands of homes on both sides of Barnegat Bay.

In order for the project to move forward, oceanfront homeowners must sign easements which would allow the dunes to be built and maintained partially on property that is privately owned. Some homeowners have refused to do so, saying the protective dunes would block their view of the ocean, or open to door to more public access to private beaches. Local officials have said expansion of beach access is not part of the replenishment plan.

There is no public access to the beach from the Ocean Heights development in which McKeon's house is located.

Acropolis, the Republican mayor of Brick, said this week that he finds it “beyond disappointing” that a state lawmaker would be among the holdouts.

“Is it any wonder that citizens are holding out when they have an elected state assemblyman standing with them, arm in arm, in the way of beach replenishment,” said Acropolis, in a statement. “I urge Assemblyman McKeon to be a leader on this issue and fight for stronger dunes, a stronger Brick Township and a stronger Jersey Shore.”

McKeon's fellow Assembly member Gregory P. McGuckin (R-Ocean), who represents Brick Township, did not address his colleague's situation in a statement issued on dune replenishment projects Thursday, but urged the passage of a bill he is sponsoring that would make it less costly for municipalities to take the easements by eminent domain. The bill would require that the increased value of a home due to the dune protection is taken into consideration and weighed against any loss of view when calculating compensation.

“We understand that beachfront owners enjoy their view of the ocean, but this is a public safety issue,” said McGuckin. “Our measure will ensure that homeowners are fairly compensated for allowing the construction of dunes on their property which will benefit entire communities. As legislators it’s our responsibility to provide for the best interests of all residents, not just a few.”

At a meeting of the Save Barnegat Bay organization Thursday night, Assemblyman David Wolfe (R-Ocean), who also represents Brick Township, said he was “disappointed” to hear that his colleague's easement had not been signed, and that he would talk to McKeon about the issue.

Acropolis said the township would likely be sending out letters to oceanfront easement holdouts today informing them of the deadline.

“Sometime in the month of August, we'll sit down with the council and find an attorney” to begin eminent domain proceedings, he said Thursday. “If it costs us a thousand dollars a piece, or $500, whatever it is, that money will be a good investment to protect the thousands of homeowners who are now going to be protected.”
bernie July 12, 2013 at 10:55 AM
political bs.  Acropolis said in June there were only a couple of hold outs and now we come to find out only 50% have signed easements.  Then he said if he was one of the homeowners he would not sign the easement unless he knew the metes and bounds and as of right now the DEP will not commit to this.  Now he is trying to show the people how on top he is of this and is going after a Democrat Assemblyman who stated if Acropolis would not sign the easement why should he.  These homeowners will not be bullied and this kind of "PR" will only infuriate them more.  Acropolis needs to get the Governor to call the DEP who also said in June if these people don't sign they will get a call from him directly.  Instead of this politcal BS, Acropolis needs to send out a press release telling the Governor instead of calling the homeowners directly, he needs to call the DEP and get them to give the people the metes and bounds for the easements. If the governor will not do that or the DEP has told the governor to go scratch (which is probably the case), then we need to know and stop the political bs and it is not helping us to get the dunes.
Daniel Nee (Editor) July 12, 2013 at 11:07 AM
Kal - Just a clarification on what an easement is. You do not give up your private property when you sign an easement. You simply give someone else the right to access it for a specific purpose. So all of the oceanfront owners would retain their property.
Daniel Nee (Editor) July 12, 2013 at 11:08 AM
Bernie - As has been mentioned, the dune line information is on the township's website. It is linked in the article. I am told it was published about two months ago.
proud July 12, 2013 at 11:18 AM
"There is no public access to the beach from the Ocean Heights development in which McKeon's house is located." Bingo! This is where the greed lies. Jersey Strong and McKeon perfect together. Disgusting pig!
Andy Pat July 12, 2013 at 12:41 PM
I have to question the entire concept. Huge amounts of taxpayer dollars. What is actually being protected? What benefit is it to inland taxpayers compared to water/ocean front taxpayers? Are we just shovelling sand against the tide? At what cost do these dunes come at? What is their expected life? It seems like these dunes (if they are all they are cracked up to be) would be of strong interest to insurance companies. Let them build them!
proud July 12, 2013 at 12:53 PM
The benefit is to protect the large investment in infrastructure and the economic engine therein, which of course, equates to tax dollars. BIG tax dollars. The cost of the projects can be gotten from the Philadelphia and New York offices of the USACE. The expected life of the the dunes is as unpredictable as the weather. The current designs provide for a fifty year maintenance program. If you consider "the insurance companies" to be the federally controlled NFIP ( which in a sense they are), then the cost of the dunes is borne by said federales and the insured that they are bilking.
oldsoldier July 12, 2013 at 02:35 PM
From all I have read on this subject (thank you Brick Patch), the NFIP rates will increase for all in FEMA designated flood zones. Also, if I am correct, those who do not raise their home the designated feet will be assessed much more. So, if these "holdouts" do not agree with the dunes, why can't the NFIP assess them even more? Then the State Assemblymen who can't find out information available can scratch his head wondering why he is paying so much in NFIP assessments. If these dunes are necessary to protect other homes further inland, then by all means eminent domain must be considered, otherwise, make the homeowners/their insurance companies pay for them.
Andy Pat July 12, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Glad you had almost all the answers. However, since "The expected life of the the dunes is as unpredictable as the weather" that leaves a crucial question unanswered. How often do we go back to the already overburdened taxpayer to "rebuild dunes"? Seems a little like Robinhood in reverse.
George July 12, 2013 at 03:21 PM
Proud don't you live in Lacey.
proud July 12, 2013 at 03:30 PM
What does my primary residence have to do wit anything?
George July 12, 2013 at 03:37 PM
Proud did you solve the school super problem in Lacey yet?
irish1980 July 12, 2013 at 03:38 PM
He's a benny and its his summer home so sc$3w him ,do it
Tom Cular July 12, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Please let this Bennie stay in Essex County where he belongs..
Spooner July 12, 2013 at 04:13 PM
Mr Nee- where that breach occurred in Mantoloking, the state owned two properties just north of Herbert St. Where was the state in protecting the peoples property. Why did they allow the dunes to not be replaced or replenished from Hurricane Irene's damage in 2011?
proud July 12, 2013 at 04:20 PM
Yes, I have @ George. Since Superstorm Sandy refuses to resign- FIRE her. Leave the acting Superintendent and administrators in place ( or, fire a few), and let the district resume some semblance of normalcy.
proud July 12, 2013 at 04:22 PM
@AP, the plan calls for a revisit every five years. Of course, under catastrophic events that might have to be revisited for the aforementioned reasons.
George July 12, 2013 at 04:23 PM
you are dreaming right Proud
proud July 12, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Not at all @George. I am offering a sensible solution that you requested of me For the Kids sake.
George July 12, 2013 at 04:33 PM
she is going to take your school district to the cleaners lol
proud July 12, 2013 at 04:55 PM
If she is exonerated, she will take the district to the cleaners whether fired or not. If not, taxpayer dollars are being pissed away on a district in limbo. The "kids" can't afford to wait.
George July 12, 2013 at 05:02 PM
You better run for the board and save the district.
Daniel Nee (Editor) July 12, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Spooner - I'm not aware of any state-owned oceanfront properties in Mantoloking. Do you have a block/lot number?
proud July 12, 2013 at 06:22 PM
I'm not so sure the district is "savable" @George. For that matter, I am not so sure the State is savable. So long as home rule is in place , the once great Garden State will never prosper. It has been sold out to an economy of government. mayor vincee Briella (when not belittling the disabled) refers to home rule the backbone of NJ. More like the back breaker!
Spooner July 12, 2013 at 10:11 PM
Mr Nee- in reply to your guery: that would be Block #23 - Lots # 53 & 54. Two lots indicated on property tax map as Exempted, State Of New Jersey.
Herb Raskin July 13, 2013 at 10:55 AM
worried about the rest of the facts if you can't get the subject's name right to start ... it's John McKeon, not Jack.
proud July 13, 2013 at 11:11 AM
State Lawmaker Among Brick's Oceanfront Easement Holdouts ... madison.patch.com/.../state.../state-lawmaker-among-bricks-oceanfront-ease... 1 day ago - John "Jack" McKeon, a member of the state's General Assembly from District ... Essex Fells, Florham Park, Hanover, Harding, Livingston, Madison, Maplewood, ..... The Morris County 4-H Fair is the highlight event of the year! More results for jack mckeon a member of the state's general assembly from essex county
Herb Raskin July 13, 2013 at 11:54 AM
duly noted.
Tom July 13, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Great he can mess up West Orange and retreat to Brick! Who are his partners on this property?
Car14 July 14, 2013 at 12:10 AM
He was a disaster in west orange- now one in Brick. How selfish can he be...just to have a view?? what about protecting all other property owners from storms with a new dune. Let the army corp of engineers do their work. Does he realize by not signing he is endangering himself and others on his block or in his area of major flooding and damage?? What an idiot. SIGN over the easement!!!!!!!!! He doesn't OWN the beach! Brick got hit bad it needs to be protected maybe even from McKeon
CPOTom July 15, 2013 at 12:23 PM
Send him back to West Orange sporting a tar and feather body suit!

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