Skip to Content

News & Resources

Courts begin to weigh in on barrier dune construction p2

3/3/2015 | Real Estate Blog

Leonard Nimoy died this weekend. His passing marks the end of an era for many of us. His character on “Star Trek” had so many memorable moments, signature moments that will always come to mind when someone mentions the TV series or the movies. The “live long and prosper” sign, the little pinch to the shoulder that knocks someone out cold — anyone who works at a computer all day knows exactly how that feels now — and the raised eyebrow when someone does something “human.”

For us, however, the Spock scene that first comes to mind is the one at the end of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” (Spoiler alert!) Spock has repaired the Enterprise to save it from destruction, but in doing so, he has exposed himself to lethal levels of radiation. Before he dies, he and Kirk have a brief exchange. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few — or the one.

Toss that out at lunch some day and see what happens. Then add scenarios to see where people would draw the line. The final scenario could be, does the need of the communities along the New Jersey coastline to be protected from storm surge outweigh the property rights of a few homeowners, or even just one?

For Gov. Chris Christie, the answer was clear: The many trump the few. That’s why he issued an executive order that authorized the government to take land from private landowners without compensation. Superstorm Sandy had wrought havoc along the coast but had wrought less havoc in towns that had barrier dunes in place. To move the project along while homeowners and even local governments objected to the scope of the proposal, that order had to go out.

The needs of the few, however, are protected by the Constitution, according to the town of Margate and two residents. If the government wants the property, then the government should go through proper channels — proper eminent domain channels. For the town and the homeowners, then, legal action was the answer. First, the government had to be called out for skirting due process in taking their property. Second, the Army Corps of Engineers’ process had to pause while the eminent domain issue was settled.

In January, a federal court responded.

We’ll continue this in our next post.


The Press of Atlantic City, “Army Corps cancels bids for Margate dune project,” Christie Rotondo, Feb. 25, 2015

Insurance Journal, “Federal Judge Allows N.J. Town’s Dune Construction Plan to Proceed,” Wayne Parry, Jan. 21, 2015