May 8, 2013
RE: Pending Court Case Impact on Dune Construction
We would like to make you aware of a case pending before the New Jersey Supreme Court which will have an important impact on the rebuilding effort in shore municipalities. The case, Harvey Cedars v. Karan, turns on the issue of compensation for property taken through eminent domain powers. Namely, whether the dune’s value can offset the shorefront property’s just compensation price due to the special benefit the dune accords the property owner.
The case was brought by shorefront property owners, who sued Harvey Cedars after their easement was condemned. They argue that the dune confers a general benefit to the entire community and therefore, under an 1889 court ruling, the value of the dune should not offset their compensation. The municipality argues, along with amicus intervener the NJ Association for Floodplain Management (NJAFM), that the artificial dunes do in fact confer a special benefit to the property owners. The argument is that but for the dunes’ presence, it would be the property owner’s house which would be washed away and not the dune. After a jury trial the lower court found for the property owners and the Appellate Division affirmed. The case was appealed to the NJ Supreme Court. The NJAFM’s brief can be found under the news section at www.njafm.org .
Because of the potential amount of money saved by offsetting the benefit of dunes during dune construction projects, this has the potential to greatly impact the rebuilding process in our shore communities.
The League will keep you updated on this issue as it develops. Questions can be directed to League Staff Attorney Ed Purcell Esq. at email@example.com or at (609) 695-3481 x 137.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.