Recently, Peter H. Wegener, a founding partner of Bathgate, Wegener & Wolf, tried another condemnation case. An Ocean County Jury returned a verdict of $964,000.00 in favor of our client, Bay Pointe Dunes Homeowner Association, Inc., the owners of a 489-front foot of beach in Point Pleasant Beach, on September 27, 2022. The verdict was awarded as “just compensation” for the taking by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection of the property rights to construct a 22-foot-high sand dune and to require public access to the beach.
The government, relying upon its appraiser, offered $6,300.00 as its estimate of just compensation. This is the most significant verdict yet in connection with the controversial storm damage reduction project, which is scheduled to be redone, in many areas, this winter because much of the sand placed by the project has already eroded away.
The state appraiser testified that the property rights taken for the project had only a nominal value of $1000.00 The jury valued the market value of those property rights to be $1,084,500.00, but also allowed a credit of $120,500.00 as the value of benefit from the project to the homeowners’ remainder.
As a part of its storm damage response to hurricane Sandy, the United States Army Corps of Engineers partnered with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to take control of all beaches from the Manasquan Inlet to the Barnegat Inlet and construct a twenty-two-foot-high dune across the entire length of the beaches with minor exceptions in the Point Pleasant Beach and Seaside Heights / Park Amusement areas. At the same time, the government made all of that beach area, most of which was privately owned, public, granting access and use to the public at large.
Although the Homeowners Association had been allowing members of the public to buy daily badges for a number of years, the Army Corps of Engineers acknowledged that the homeowners could change that policy at any time and wanted the property rights to the recreational beach in perpetuity. Therefore, the government condemned those property rights by the power of Eminent Domain.
If you have been subjected to a government taking by means of eminent domain, please contact Peter H. Wegener, Esq. to discuss your legal rights.