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Public Access Fears Dominate Brick Beach Replenishment Meeting

Homeowners concerned with easement language, lack of established dune line

Though Brick officials have pledged the status quo will remain along the township's oceanfront, homeowners at a meeting Saturday said they have concerns over preserving private beach access as well as the lack of an established dune line in a proposed beach replenishment plan.

In order for the project – which is primarily funded by the federal government – to move forward, oceanfront residents and beach associations would have to sign easements to allow the dunes to be built and maintained partially on private property.

The state has set an April 1 deadline for easements to be signed, while Rep. Jon Runyan's office has set a federal deadline of May 1.

"I do not want to put Ferris wheels or boardwalks behind anyone's house," Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis told more than 100 residents at the meeting. "I don't want more beaches. We have three beaches and that's enough. I don't want to take anyone's private beach."

Township attorney Jean Cipriani said the easements entitle public officials to access private property only for the scope of the dune renourishment project itself, so the prospect of using the documentation as license to build a boardwalk, restrooms or parking lots is out of the question.

"The Army Corps has confirmed through their project engineer that the public access that would be constructed is only to replace the exact access points that exist now," said Cipriani.

But some residents have doubts.

Homeowner Ed Pilot, as well as many others at the meeting, pointed to a subsection of the easement that states one of the goals of the project is to "implement the Public Trust Doctrine and ensure permanent public access, use and enjoyment of the beach and ocean."

"What's to prevent the DEP to come in after the project is finished and sue everyone to allow public access to their beach?" asked Pilot.

Attorney John Paul Doyle, representing 14 homeowners, also pointed to the public acces language, asking whether the easement – the boundaries of which are not technically defined yet in Brick – could mean private streets would be opened for public parking.

Cipriani said the easement is "limited by the project area," meaning the dune renourishment project itself.

Though some residents at the meeting claimed the section on the public trust doctrine – a legal principle that maintains certain lands are held in trust for the use of the public – was not present in earlier versions of coastal easements, a check of public records by Patch found that easement agreements in Long Beach Township and Mantoloking going back to 2007 included the same language.

In Long Beach Township, Surf City and Harvey Cedars, public access points did not change since replenishment projects were completed there, nor were showers, parking lots or other amenities constructed.

Acropolis said even advocates for more public beach access have been largely satisfied by Brick's current access level.

"There is a group of people around here where that's all they do - sue for public access," he said. "They've never sued Brick Township."

Cipriani said the state Department of Environmental Protection will not allow changes to be made to the easement document itself, though the township may be able to add a supplemental section explaining its position on certain issues.

Acropolis said eventually, the debate over whether to sign easements may be ended by legislation.

"There is a deadline, and it will move forward," said Acropolis. "I would much rather have input at the local level with you than have someone in Trenton set the policy as for what should happen."

Legislation that would empower municipalities or the state to condemn the easement areas and factor in the added value of the project to reduce payouts to homeowners is pending, and Gov. Chris Christie has come out strongly in favor of the replenishment project.

Acropolis also spoke of the need for replenishment to protect all of Brick's residents, including those on neighboring streets on the barrier island as well as those across the bay.

"Most of the professionals believe that if the breach [in Mantoloking] hadn't happened, most of the homes on the mainland would not have flooded," the mayor said.

Sick of whining people March 25, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Oh you don't want to sign, fine that's ok. If that's what you want then when the next time this happens and you lose everything then you should be liable. No fema money, no grant money or whatever money you'll be seeking to rebuild should come out of your pocket.
Danno March 25, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Oh!! and by the way,don't Brick rake some of their beaches in the Summer? do they pay the town for that service or is it paid for by All Brick taxpayers that are not allowed on their beaches??
RP March 25, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Yes, Jack, make it temporary and I don't believe anyone would have a problem signing. I want the dunes there. I want them replenished. I Never had a view to begin with. My dunes were always high and were not breached. Can't say the same for my next door neighbor... As it's written today, it's a permanent easement and generates more questions than it answers. If the Army Corps wants to come in and do maintenance to the replenished dunes in 4 years, I'd sign it again. This is not about views. It's about what rights are we giving up? where is the dune line? what land am I giving away? (appears about half of my lot at this point) what will I be able to do on the land that I am apparently own but can't access anymore? Nobody has these answers for us. All I know is that once we sign, that's it. No going back. And we were given about 2.5 weeks to sign without any of these answers. What's going on in Brick, especially the primary residences on the mainland breaks my heart. Don't want to see it happen again. Just don't understand why there can't be any middle ground with the easements.
Daniel Nee (Editor) March 25, 2013 at 07:40 PM
The associations do, indeed, pay taxes on the land they collectively own, including private oceanfront property. That said, while the associations often own the access points and the western portions along the dune line, much of the beach sand itself is not privately-owned.
Daniel Nee (Editor) March 25, 2013 at 07:42 PM
I do not know about raking specifically, but I do know the associations reimburse the township for lifeguard service.
bernie March 25, 2013 at 08:00 PM
simple SIGN THE EASEMENTS OR LOSE THE PROPERTY! and if that doesnt happen then the government needs hold those that refused accountable
bernie March 25, 2013 at 08:02 PM
if you own ocean front property, and you dont maintain the dunes to Army Corps and DEP's specs then you will be held accountable for criminal negligence
proud March 25, 2013 at 08:29 PM
@ A Resident, cite one qualified source (never mind repeatedly)from FEMA that stated the maps will not change due to dunes. You are not being truthful. I know this because I was told so by a high ranking Region 2 FEMA administrator..
re-tired March 25, 2013 at 08:30 PM
This disaster shows the need for wider beaches also back in the 80`s there was always beach replenishment going on .Now due to lack of money there are few projects done. If we can`t set up a regular program to replenish beaches and dunes then no amount of elevating will make houses safe and we will have to abandon living on the shore and bays .This is an expensive task and nobody wants to pay . Look at the parkway every time they add more lanes it is adding to maintenance cost so they raise the tolls. Maybe a toll road along the beach to pay for maintained beaches ?
proud March 25, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Attention all attorneys: there is a class action suit looming out there.
Local4life March 25, 2013 at 08:55 PM
My small community offers daily badges for sale. we buy season passes. there is no parking for my friends, let alone more people, where would people park, or go to the bathroom? our beach is also very crowded in the summer and the massive dune will be taking up a lot of our beach, where are we going to sit? you need to plan for public access. we also had no breach, but no one seems to care.
J March 25, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Wait so your worried about where people are going to sit with a dune on the beach? Priorities... Look you want tax money to help put then consessions need to be made. Who the hell cares where people will sit, if a dune can save homes in the long run. Get over it. Mind frames need to be changed. Worrie dabout beach views and where people will sit? Ffs seriously?? Remove head from spincter...
Tony Anz March 25, 2013 at 09:19 PM
Show of hands: How many of you posters are sitting on the couch in your underwear, drinking beer? Yes, oceanfront home and property owners pay taxes on the beach. If your logic is correct then bay-front and lake-front properties all over the State should all be open to everyone, on top of the fact that Brick already has more public access than any other area in NJ.
bernie March 25, 2013 at 09:24 PM
They don't want to grant the public access to your beach ...and ya know what if that's what it tokk to save thousands of properties than so be it
Bowie Thelonius March 25, 2013 at 09:34 PM
Tax rate cheap maybe? Sea Girt also has very low taxes compared to surrounding towns, but I wouldn't call it cheap.
Daniel Nee (Editor) March 25, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Local - The beach grows with the dune. Your beach (specifically, the area where you will sit) will be significantly larger after the project is completed.
john connor March 25, 2013 at 10:15 PM
The small breach didn’t cause the bay side to flood. This is just politicians trying to get buy in for building a private beach. The rides were high on the bayside regardless and the wind driven water would have happened even if a 100' section of ocean met the bay for a short time. Same thing happened on the bay / river side west of Sea bright where there was no breach. Beach replenishment is not going to stop bay side flooding. And what does temporarily protect the millionaires private property can and will wash away in a few storms- then what? My taxes have to pay to do it again and I can’t even walk on the sand I paid for
Local4life March 25, 2013 at 10:31 PM
Daniel, I understand the plan, but I believe the ocean will take back its spot, leaving us to sit on the dune. FEMA has had trouble getting funding for long term replenishment projects, like cape may point, and I imagine other areas of the country. I do not believe they will add sand as needed to keep a beach. I am also asking for no tax money, I am fixing my small, 500sf property myself. i also believe the dune is inevitable, and the flood maps will not be changed. If the mainland has an issue, built bigger bulkheads. Looking on google earth, I see a lot of man made lagoons and other structures built where Marsh use to be, pointing fingers at other is easy, but typically gets you no where.
Local4life March 25, 2013 at 10:39 PM
Daniel, you do great work on the brick patch and I thank you for your responses to comments. Tony, I am drinking a beer on the couch, pants though, thinking about what I can accomplish this weekend. Restore the shore!
bernie March 25, 2013 at 10:39 PM
Its a barrier island and needs to be treated as such. Reefs dunes and whatever other means necessary to provide safety to the homes on the island and mainland to the west of the dune life e
KC March 26, 2013 at 03:02 AM
"Their" beach? How do you own an ocean? Arrogance abounds.
RP March 26, 2013 at 10:41 AM
right or wrong. their deeded property line goes all the way to 10 feet above the mean high water line
clamdigger March 26, 2013 at 11:53 AM
I have never been a proponent of Eminent Domain because I've rarely seen it used for the greater good but this is one of those extreme situations where ED would be beneficial for that greater good of many communities. I really hope all parties involved can come to an expedient solution so work can begin before another storm rolls through. this is time to focus on the bigger picture.
DDJA March 26, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Daniel is correct. A true breach is what happened in Mantoloking. What occurred for most other areas was just dune washovers as he points out. Big difference Once they address Mantoloking, we would not have anywhere near the amount of flooding that took place....nowhere near it. There should be absolutely NO reason to have people elevate their homes on the mainland unless you are very low lying....waterfront or not. In fact, eg, f you force someone to elevate their home, and the impact of their neighbor across the street who is NOT in a flood zone....I wonder where that water will now go??? FIX THE BREACHES!!!!
Mr Ships27 March 26, 2013 at 01:50 PM
I believe everyone wants protective dunes regardless of the "view" issue. The bigger picture is really about property rights. Everyone's property rights, not just ocean front. The easements are because the Army Corps of Engineers are the only game in town when it comes to authorized providers of dune replenishment projects. This is due to the fact that the land east of the mean high water mark and the land underneath the ocean is government property. If there were competition (i.e other contractors) that were able to perform the work, without the easements, it would have been done ages ago and at the cost of the private owners or beaches. Unfortunately that is not an option, so we're left with the decision on easements and eminent domain and citizen against citizen. If we perhaps look at this option, it might be satisfactory to the multitudes. Not sure if it's even possible, but i'm pretty sure most have not even thought of nor considered this.
P B March 26, 2013 at 04:49 PM
There were about 7 true breaches and 2 inlets. The island was completely underwater. We will have the exact same flooding. (I live on the bay)
P B March 26, 2013 at 04:52 PM
We need sea walls. Jettys and bigger dunes. Oceanfront property should be a thing of the past unless you still have a massive regulated dune in place. Bay houses are all going up on pilings 8ft+. Being a surfer I knew this was going to happen. And mark my words it will happen again.
Michael March 26, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Yes, and the "breaches" in most spots in Mantoloking started at "Public Access Points". Maybe if there were no public access points the breaches never would have happened?
Michael March 26, 2013 at 10:56 PM
If you call $27,000 per year cheap with 80% plus going to the county cheap then yes, my taxes in Mantoloking are "cheap".
debbie tomes April 01, 2013 at 05:32 AM
I totally agree with you Kevin. No one should be allowed to claim beachfront property!! It should all be for the public. We can no longer say, "okay, you don't want a dune, fine, don't call us when you're house gets swept away...." it is now to protect the homeowners beyond the beachfront property, and they should be protected. Build the dunes!!!!!!!

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