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Harvey Cedars Couple Sought $800,000 For Dune Easement, Jury Awards $300

Case tried in Toms River under new Harvey Cedars v. Karan standards

An Ocean County jury has decided that a Harvey Cedars couple who wanted $800,000 in compensation for a dune easement should only receive $300, the state Attorney General's Office said.

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman praised the jury's decision and called it another important legal victor the the state's coastal protection efforts

“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 in a release. “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.”

Harvey Cedars residents Victor and Carolyn Groisser said in court documents the easement was worth approximately $200,000, and that they also should be awarded more than $600,000 in damages.

But the jury disagreed after a four-day trial in Ocean County before Superior Court Judge E. David Millard in Toms River. The case was tried under the Karan standards, the Attorney General's Office said.

“This jury’s decision supports the State’s position that protecting homes and entire communities is more important than individual ocean views," state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said. "As we continue our commitment to building a full coastal, post-Sandy protection system for New Jersey, this decision will help expedite that process and allow us to better protect our residents and visitors at the Shore.”

Harvey Cedars has been working with the DEP since 2005 to obtain easements needed for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a shore protection project. The project consists of a 22-foot-high dune and a 125-foot-beach berm, and construction was completed in 2010, the release states.

Although most property owners voluntarily donated easements in recognition of the storm risk reduction benefits they would obtain, the Groissers did not.

The borough filed a lawsuit in April 2009 to condemn the easement area on the Groissers' property. The case was tried and appealed, then remanded for a new trial after the Supreme Court’s decision in Harvey Cedars v. Karan.

The Supreme Court rejected the argument of Harvey Cedars property owners Harvey and Phyllis Karan – successful at the trial and appellate levels - that storm protection provided by the sand dune benefited the entire community, and could not be considered an individual special benefit that boosted the value of their property.

The court ruled that quantifiable storm protection benefits provided by sand dunes and beach replenishment must be factored into the fair compensation equation.

The Supreme Court ruling overturned a $375,000 jury award to the Karans that had been upheld by the Appellate Division, and the couple soon afterward settled with the state for $1.

R Silva July 02, 2014 at 09:46 AM
Good, they should have not gotten that ! All they are thinking was about themselves and not the protection of the community and the society. Maybe they should move!
Spooner July 02, 2014 at 10:04 AM
Time to go to Federal Court under the Fifth Amendment:...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
i don't get it?? July 02, 2014 at 10:29 AM
It's not being "used" by the public...and they weren't "using" the land for anything so therefore the safety of a community trumps greediness...they should go back to Florida and stay there.
OLD WHITE JOE July 02, 2014 at 11:00 AM
300 is too much, I'd give the a dollar and a punch in the mouth each
suz July 02, 2014 at 11:29 AM
I just spent three weeks, off and on, with family in Harvey Cedars right on the beach. Personally, I love the fact that you cannot see the beach, unless you go up to a higher deck...I don't want to look at strangers sitting on beach! I'd rather see the dunes and feel ocean breeze, and smell the ocean water. Stupid reasoning for not allowing dunes among other too many to name! The view! Give me a break!


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