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Beachfront N.J. couple only get $300 for easement

By Bryan Cohen | Jul 1, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced on Monday that a jury ruled in favor of the State in a Harvey Cedars beachfront easement case.

The borough of Harvey Cedars has worked with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) since 2005 to obtain easements needed for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a shore protection project. While most property owners voluntarily donated easements to obtain storm risk reduction benefits, Victor and Carolyn Groisser argued the easement on their property was worth approximately $200,000. In addition, the Groissers argued they should be awarded more than $600,000 in damages.

An Ocean County Superior Court jury agreed with the borough of Harvey Cedars and the DEP by awarding only $300 as compensation for the easement. Harvey Cedars and the DEP had argued that the benefits of coastal protection outweighed the Groissers' claims for damages.

"This represents an important legal win for the state's beachfront protection efforts, for our vital natural resources along the coast, and for the citizens of New Jersey," Hoffman said. "Last year, in its ruling in the Borough of Harvey Cedars v. Karan matter, the Supreme Court made plain that property owners should not expect and will not receive windfalls at the public expense."

In 2009, Harvey Cedars property owners Harvey and Phyllis Karan were successful at the trial and appellate levels in their argument that the storm protection provided by the sand dune benefitted the entire community and could not be considered an individualized benefit. The New Jersey Supreme Court rejected the argument, overturning a $375,000 jury award to the Karans that had been upheld at the appellate level. The Karans later settled with the state for $1.

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