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Court Decision Protects Dunes

Date : Fri, 21 Sep 2012 10:18:19 -0400

For Immediate Release
September 18, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Court Decision Protects Dunes

Last week an appellate division court has ruled in the favor of dune protection.In MULLEN and LEVINE v. THE IPPOLITO CORPORATION and POINT PLEASANT BEACH, the court singled out Point Pleasant Beach for failing to protect its dunes.The court ruled that it is the responsibility of the town to protect the dunes and enforce its dune protection ordinance.In the case, Point Pleasant Beach failed to take corrective action or enforcement action for damage to the dunes by a beachfront hotel, including regrading the dunes for a wedding and using the dunes for Zumba exercise classes.Dunes were allowed to be damaged, destroyed, erode and disappear.The hotel built a retaining wall and steps on part of the property.The town was cited for failure to enforce zoning requirements on the hotel that allowed it to exceed impervious cover limits and allowed for the expansion of non-conforming uses on the property.The town also allowed encroaching and paving part of the boardwalk.The town did not do enough to protect the dunes from overdevelopment.Under beach replenishment funding towns have to have a dune protection ordinance, so this is not an isolated case.

"What is important about this case is that the court chastised the town for failing to enforce its dune protection ordinances and for not protecting its resources," *said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club*."Dunes are important for the environment and protecting properties from storm surges and flooding.Dunes create a natural area along our shore that serves as important habitat. The Sierra Club is further concerned that no DEP enforcement action has been taken against the hotel as many of their activities resulted in CAFRA violations.The court found that the increased impervious cover and dune disturbance violated the CARFA rules. The appellate division overturned the lower courts finding that the plaintiffs did not exhaust all administrative means to address their issues.Instead the court found it is the responsibility of the municipality to not only protect the dunes but to take enforcement action against those that impact dunes. The appellate division overturned the lower courts finding that the plaintiffs did not exhaust all administrative means to address their issues and reinstated the case and remanded it to the lower court was a scathing opinion about the towns failures.Instead the court found it is the responsibility of the municipality to not only protect the dunes but to take enforcement action against those that impact dunes.

"Dunes are a resource that belong to all of us.They enhance our coast, provide habitat, and protect our beaches.Municipalities can now be held accountable for failing to enforce violations that harm our dunes, this is true up and down our coast," said Jeff Tittel.

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2012-09-21 07:18:19

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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