At What Cost an Ocean View?
Superstorm Sandy destroyed nearly 82,000 homes and caused $7.8 billion in insured losses. New Jersey now has had to decide how best to protect homes, roads and development from future storms. The resulting debate is turning neighbors against each other in many communities along the coast.
Kate Zernike writes in The New York Times: "The corps had completed some dunes before Hurricane Sandy hit, but stopped when they could not get enough easements. Where there were dunes, the storm left relatively minor damage. Where there were not, homes — even many seemingly safely inland — were destroyed."
"...Pressure tactics have been aimed at persuading the more than 1,000 seaside homeowners on the southern part of the shore who are refusing to allow dune construction on their properties, in many cases to protect their ocean views. The measures have transformed a philosophical battle of property rights versus public good into a bitter neighbor-versus-neighbor ground war all along the coast."
After a recent court ruling suggesting that cities and counties would not need to compensate property owners for taking easements along the beachfront, many communities are now considering eminent domain proceedings against the holdout property owners.