Brick Township has entered into an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection that will allow for the state agency to provide assistance as the township condemns oceanfront easements required for the construction of a protective dune and an underground steel wall to protect Route 35.
The township council approved the so-called "Common Interest and Confidentiality Agreement" with the state this week.
The agreement allows for the opportunity for the state to have input in the condemnation process and for Brick's legal and planning professionals to be paid through state funds for portions of the project, according to Business Administrator Scott Pezarras.
The full details of the state's involvement are subject to confidentiality.
While municipalities across the state are in the process of condemning easements needed for a federally funded beach replenishment and dune construction project to get underway later this year, Brick and Mantoloking oceanfront homeowners are unique in that two easements are required to be signed – one for the replenishment project and one for a separate, underground steel revetment to be constructed that will provide additional protection to Route 35.
Pezarras said the condemnation process is moving forward, but the appraisal of properties is currently on hold as federal officials determine exactly how much land must be taken for the replenishment project to move forward.
The state has set a March deadline for the properties to be in public hands.
Only small slivers of oceanfront sand – not people's homes or yards – will be taken, officials have said. Gov. Chris Christie has signed an executive order mandating the takings in the wake of both Superstorm Sandy, as well as a court ruling last summer that threw out a $350,000 award to a Long Beach Island couple who had their easement taken by Harvey Cedars. That couple eventually settled with the borough, setting the value of the easement at $1.
In order for the protective dune and revetment to be constructed, oceanfront homeowners must sign paperwork allowing a portion of their private land to be used for the projects. Some have refused for a variety of reasons, including a fear that their view of the ocean will be disturbed.
The replenishment project includes the construction of 25 foot-high dunes and up to 200 feet of additional oceanfront.