Dunes Provide More Than Obstructed Views According to New Jersey Court
In an important ruling, the New Jersey Supreme Court said that shoreline property owners could not receive windfall payments in compensation for dune reconstruction that blocked shoreline views. Instead the court said, the benefits of the dunes to prevent flooding and storm damage could also be weighed.
In a closely watched case, property owners Harvey and Phyllis Karan were awarded some $375,000 in compensation for obstructed views when a 22-foot dune was constructed on an easement on their oceanfront property. However, in calculating the award, the lower court did not consider the benefits of the dune to the property owner — benefits that ultimately protected the property during the Sandy storm. According to the ruling, “The court did not allow the jury to consider evidence that the dunes – constructed at public expense to protect the island’s homes from minor and catastrophic storms – enhanced the value of the Karans’ property.”
The ruling is expected to speed post-Sandy recovery efforts along the NJ coast, where property owner holdouts have fought dune construction easements. Gov. Chris Christie said, “I think this should be a clear message to the 1,400 or so folks who have not yet given easements along the 127 miles of New Jersey’s coastline. The fact is that we need to get going building these dunes and protecting our shoreline, and if you were hoping to get some six-figure payment for the loss of your precious view, I think the Supreme Court put a stake in that today.”