Shore residents resist replenishment

November 27, 2008 5:10:50 PM PST
Some waterfront property owners in Cape May County are saying thanks - but no thanks - to a plan that would eventually replenish area beaches.

They're being asked by Strathmere Township to sign easements that would permit public access to their property, a requirement for the multimillion-dollar beach replenishment project to go ahead this winter.

That hasn't convinced some residents.

"The easement covers the entire lot in its entirety forever," Bette Jean Yank told The Press of Atlantic City. "You essentially sign away all your rights. If regulations should change or if the configuration of Strathmere should change (through natural or manmade circumstances) your hands will be tied."

The newspaper reported that the township is pursuing taking the land under eminent domain if homeowners resist. Yank said the township's offers are low, noting that she's been offered about $2,300 for her 11 acres of land.

Bill Shillingford, who inherited three beachfront lots from an aunt, said the township offered him $1 for one lot and $40 for the other two.

Strathmere Mayor Richard Palombo said none of the lots can be developed now and that they may soon be under water if the beach isn't restored.

As in many New Jersey shore towns, beach erosion is a significant problem in Strathmere. The township already spent $750,000 this month to build a rock wall to protect homes and roads.

"At this point there's no reason to believe the lots are buildable," he said. "If you argue that point, how can you not consider a beach-replenishment project to protect your land?

"Even if they believe the lots are buildable some day, the irony of the situation is if we don't get the easements the land they own could be under water," he added. "That's where I have trouble dealing with the argument."

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Information from: The Press of Atlantic City, http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com

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