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Senate Panel Advances Bill To Change Easement Payments

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. April 25, 2013

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New Jersey lawmakers want to change how homeowners are compensated when beachfront property is condemned for shore protection projects.

Some beachfront owners have been awarded big payouts for easements because the height of dunes blocks their view of the ocean and lowers their property value.

Senator Jim Whelan says it’s not just the loss of a view that should be considered.

 “Figures came in at $350,000. That’s a lot of money for a town or the state to have to pay if you have multiple properties with easements. All of sudden now you can’t afford to have your dune system, and the dunes are in fact protecting those properties the most of anyone.”

The Senate Environment Committee has advanced a billl that would also require the protection those beach projects provide to be calculated in determining how much homeowners get for the easements.

New Jersey Sierra Cluc director Jeff Tittle supports the measure.

"A lot of times when we look valuations we never look at the overall valuation which is protecting that person’s house and other people’s houses form damages and the cost to the public for emergency services to rescue people.”

 Environment Committee chairman Bob Smith expects the legislation will face a legal challenge.

“I want to be totally candid I’m not 100 percent sure this constitutionally kosher. I think it is, but there’s no guarantees on this. I think it will have a test in court.”

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