Sandy is long gone, but another storm is raging in this small borough of 1,200 homes, one that could swamp taxpayers on every barrier island in the state by adding tens of millions of dollars to the cost of building dunes.
The Karans are demanding that the town pay them $375,000 for damaging their ocean view. How? By building the dune in front of their house, the very dune that officials say saved their property from Sandy last month.
The couple won the judgment in state court last year, and the borough has appealed to the state Supreme Court. The couple’s lawyer said that despite the protection the dune provided to the Karans’ 2,112-square-foot summer home, which they owned since 1973, the borough still needs to pay up.
“I don’t think that the storm affects the court case at all,” said Peter H. Wegener, the couple’s attorney. “We never took the position that we are against the dunes. This is a project that benefits everyone, and why shouldn’t the property owners be justly compensated for their property?”
The Karans could not be reached for comment. According to public records, Harvey Karan is 81 and Phyllis Karan is 76. Property records show that their tax bills are sent to a post office box in Toms River.
The man-made dunes, built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2010 at a cost of $25 million, protected all of the oceanfront homes in the 1.1-mile-long borough on Long Beach Island. It was the key to preventing the municipality — just three blocks wide in one part — from being claimed by the ocean, officials said.
“Without the beach project, I’m confident to say that we would not be here today,” Mayor Jonathan Oldham said. “From about half of our town south, there would be no town if not for the beach project. I hope that people realize that.”
If Karan’s award is upheld, it could have a long-reaching impact on future beach projects, Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini said.
© by Nicholas Huba and Kirk Moore