PDA

View Full Version : Beachfront Property Owners Oppose Effort to Stop Erosion



Kris
April 15th, 2006, 05:04 AM
April 15, 2006
Wary of Bureaucrats, Beachfront Property Owners Oppose Effort to Stop Erosion
By RONALD SMOTHERS

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/04/15/nyregion/15dune600.jpg
Shorefront property owners on Long Beach Island and other New Jersey beaches are balking at parts of a major replenishment and dune construction plan.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/04/15/nyregion/15dune650.2.jpg
Eugene Schulz discussing an Army Corps of Engineers plan to add sand dunes to prevent erosion along the New Jersey beaches. Residents like Mr. Schulz, of Beach Island, are skeptical about the idea.

For years, residents of barrier islands such as Long Beach Island in New Jersey have lived precariously on the front lines of an ever-shifting battle between people and the forces of nature: enjoying the seasonal profit and glamour of oceanfront property while knowing that in the long run, the sands will succumb to the forces of waves and wind.

Enter the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Protection with a long-studied, 50-year beach replenishment and dune construction program that they say is necessary to stave off nature's onslaught, at least temporarily, in some 20 communities along the island, an 18-mile-long sliver of land.

The $71 million plan 65 percent of it financed by federal funds and 35 percent paid for by the state calls for dune construction that would put 11 million cubic yards of new sand on the shore. Earth movers would cast it all to create and firm up 125-foot-deep beaches, as well as dunes that are at least 22 feet above the mean high tide point and 30 feet wide. Every five years, engineers would add more sand, if necessary, to maintain the new shoreline.

By cost, volume of sand and distance covered, it is the largest single beach replenishment and dune construction program ever in New Jersey, according to Army Corps officials.

But hundreds of shorefront property owners and surfing groups are wary of the plan and are balking at some parts of it, much to the chagrin of lawmakers and the Army Corps, who have fought for nearly a decade to get Congressional approval of the appropriation.

At the core of the concerns are the broad easements that homeowners must grant to allow the bulking up of the existing dunes that are technically on their property and in front of their homes. The easements are in perpetuity, they say, and specify no limitations on dune size. Some homeowners also argue that the easements do not include any requirement that the Army Corps maintain the dunes, repair any damage to the views or remove any danger created for swimmers.

"They want to do things on a massive scale and want us to give bureaucrats carte blanche in perpetuity," said Eugene Schulz, a Brant Beach resident, whose home sits relatively well protected behind and atop a massive dune. "Nobody is opposed to a moderate program and to easements with some parameters. But I just think this is just a big thing to justify the Corps and the D.E.P.'s existence."

For surfers like John Weber, executive director of the New Jersey Surfrider Foundation, there is a fear that the Army Corps's engineering will remake the underlying sea bottom, scouring out deep and dangerous pools for swimmers and eliminating the close-in wave action favored by surfers.

Such sentiments are not universal on the island. Residents whose homes are not bordering the beach and those whose homes face Manahawkin Bay, are all for the program, which the Army Corps said would not only stem beach erosion but also protect the island and its brisk summer commerce from storms. But to go through with it, the engineers must get agreement on the easements from about 900 owners whose homes butt up against the sandy shore.

Work was scheduled to start this month but without all the easement agreements signed, that is unlikely. The delay places the federal money in peril; it will be taken back if none is spent by the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30. The state allocation, which is a matching percentage of the federal money, would disappear as well.

"The key here is for at least one town to get their easements from residents and get started," said Jonathan Oldham, the mayor of Harvey Cedars, a tiny community near the northern tip of the island. "If we miss this opportunity it won't come again for a long, long time."

State Senator Leonard T. Connors Jr., who is also the mayor of Surf City, was more blunt about the impact of inaction. "This is like throwing federal money into the sea," he said.

The dispute is not restricted to New Jersey. On Long Beach in New York, whose 50,000 residents make it the most densely populated waterfront in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, debates are raging over a similar plan to build high dunes to preserve the beach and shoreline. Among the issues are that dunes would block the views from some apartments in the buildings lining the boardwalk, and that they would enable people to hop over the railing to the beach without paying at the entrance booths. Residents also complain that the dredged sand would be coarser and darker than the light "sugar" sand there now.

The disputes come as coastal geologists are reaching the conclusion that the sea will eventually have its way with barrier islands. Norbert P. Psuty, a professor at Rutgers University's Marine and Coastal Sciences Center, said that the barrier islands emerged about 3,000 years ago, when sea levels around the globe stabilized, allowing a relative surplus of sand and sediment in shoreline systems to accrete and grow vertically.

But stabilization, he pointed out, is a relative term. Storms, winds and waves shape and reshape the islands, causing them to move and migrate closer to the coast, and wax and wane in width, all in a stubborn attempt to maintain themselves.

Systems of dunes have emerged in recent years as one of the major tools, followed by beach replenishment, employed by the Army Corps of Engineers and state coastal management agencies to withstand or at least blunt the ocean forces, Dr. Psuty said. The method became an article of faith for those seeking to stave off erosion and the ravages of storms.

"But it was more subjective than scientific," said Dr. Psuty of the man-made efforts.

Keith Watson, the Army Corps' project director for the Long Beach Island program, said though, that after years of study, the agency had determined that "adding sand to the systems" affecting the shore was the best solution to storms and erosion. How to get people to accept it is another matter.

"The dynamics of barrier islands are determined by nature, and we will eventually figure that out," he said. "But people and human behavior, that, we may never understand." Mayors of towns on the island have reacted differently to the impasse. Mr. Connors of Surf City is losing patience. Fourteen of the 25 shorefront property owners in his town have signed the easements, and he has proposed an ordinance that would require those who do not participate in the program to repair their own dunes at a cost that could run into the tens of thousands of dollars per homeowner.

In Harvey Cedars, where half of the 82 residents who need to sign the easements have done so, Mr. Oldham is a bit more optimistic. He thinks that between now and Sept. 30, the rest of the residents will agree to the easements.

But Dianne C. Gove, the mayor of Long Beach Township, the island's largest municipality, said that it might not be so easy. In her town, only 40 property owners of the 600 who need to grant easements have signed on to the program, she said.

Residents of some of the wealthier areas such as Loveladies and North Beach, where $4 million homes are not uncommon, have also criticized an additional state requirement that there be access to the beach every quarter mile along the main road down the spine of the island, rather than every half mile as recommended by the Army Corps. The rationale for this requirement is that lawmakers do not want tax money to be spent solely for the benefit of owners of private property. In the wealthier areas, many people seeking beach access are greeted with no trespassing signs at driveway entrances.

But even in the less wealthy areas of the town, where there is beach access at every block, some homeowners are resisting giving the Army Corps the right to place restrooms at some of these access roads and against their small lots, also a requirement for spending tax dollars.

Kenneth A. Porro, a lawyer who has been hired by more than 100 of the residents, said that the major concern of most is the breadth of the easements themselves, and he is pressing state and federal officials to negotiate some limitations with his clients or face a court challenge.

Bruce Lambert contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Ninjahedge
April 17th, 2006, 08:47 AM
I do think they need to do something to help prevent erosion, but they also have to take into account the homeowners.

As for "reapiring the view" that is a load of horse hockey.

They do need to be careful what they sign away though.

As for the surfers. Surfers in NJ? Come ON guys! I love body surfing when the surf gets choppy, but actual legitimate surfing on LBI is like snowboarding at Camp Gaw.

1 hill, 1 lift, $1 a day. Need I say more?

NYatKNIGHT
April 17th, 2006, 12:08 PM
Agreed. I'm pretty sure if I had an ocean front home I think I'd give up the ground level view for a beefed up dune. Also, not sure about LBI in particular, but I am constantly surprised by die-hard surfers from other states who swear by their secret 'point breaks' along the Jersey Shore. I know a durfer dude from California who says there's a spot on Island Beach that is the best he's ever been to. I know!

Ninjahedge
April 17th, 2006, 01:41 PM
Agreed. I'm pretty sure if I had an ocean front home I think I'd give up the ground level view for a beefed up dune. Also, not sure about LBI in particular, but I am constantly surprised by die-hard surfers from other states who swear by their secret 'point breaks' along the Jersey Shore. I know a durfer dude from California who says there's a spot on Island Beach that is the best he's ever been to. I know!


DURF!

stache
April 17th, 2006, 07:21 PM
Durf?

JCMAN320
April 17th, 2006, 09:14 PM
There is great surfing on the Jersey shore. In Belmar, Manasquan, and Belmar where they have surf competitions every year and are rated as among the top surfing spots on the East Coast where surfers up and down the East Coast come to surf.

Here is excerpt from Wikipedia on Manasquan surfing:"The Manasquan Inlet provides some of the East Coast's best surfing (sometimes over 15 foot swells) with waves being corralled, refracted and enlarged by the jetty protuding out into the Atlantic Ocean."

Excerpt from Wikipedia on Belmar surfing:"Belmar beach (as well as the towns to the south, such as Manasquan and Point Pleasant) is among the most popular surf spots on the East Coast. Belmar frequently hosts surfing events and competitions."

I know from experience because I' am an avid surfer. Seaside Heights also has great surfing near Casino Pier. The Jersey Shore is way better than Long Island when it comes to surfing and most everything else.

Ninjahedge
April 18th, 2006, 09:26 AM
Durf?


I know a durfer dude

DURF!

:D

Ninjahedge
April 18th, 2006, 09:30 AM
I know from experience because I' am an avid surfer. Seaside Heights also has great surfing near Casino Pier. The Jersey Shore is way better than Long Island when it comes to surfing and most everything else.

Well, MOST of the east coast south of NY is better JC!!!!

As for surfing, I just remember going to the shore almost every summer, and the only time there was ANY surf was when there was a big storm out at sea.....

This past summer I had a blast body surfing near Ortley (right next to point pleasant, etc). It was the first time I saw, and was able to ride through the curl!

I can see where there might be isolates spots of channeled surf here and there, but for the most part, I have not seen to much at Belmar, Sandy Hook, Pt. Pl, Wildwood, barnegat or a bunch of the other common locations.

I also doubt we have a serious "North Shore" (I had the opp to see that when we were in Hawaii, but we never made it across the island... I was a little disappointed with Waikiki.....)

lofter1
April 18th, 2006, 12:30 PM
There's a good spot on LBI in the southern part of Beach Haven that gets some OK waves --

Better for body surfing than with a board.

billyblancoNYC
May 2nd, 2006, 05:24 PM
There is great surfing on the Jersey shore. In Belmar, Manasquan, and Belmar where they have surf competitions every year and are rated as among the top surfing spots on the East Coast where surfers up and down the East Coast come to surf.

Here is excerpt from Wikipedia on Manasquan surfing:"The Manasquan Inlet provides some of the East Coast's best surfing (sometimes over 15 foot swells) with waves being corralled, refracted and enlarged by the jetty protuding out into the Atlantic Ocean."

Excerpt from Wikipedia on Belmar surfing:"Belmar beach (as well as the towns to the south, such as Manasquan and Point Pleasant) is among the most popular surf spots on the East Coast. Belmar frequently hosts surfing events and competitions."

I know from experience because I' am an avid surfer. Seaside Heights also has great surfing near Casino Pier. The Jersey Shore is way better than Long Island when it comes to surfing and most everything else.

Wow, just remembered why forums annoy me sometimes.