Three towns at the Jersey Shore have given themselves the authority to seize land from beachfront property owners who have not granted the easements allowing the federal government to build a protective dune system.

 

A recent New Jersey Supreme Court ruling means homeowners aren't likely to get much money if some of their land is seized for dune projects.

But the ruling has not changed the minds of seven holdouts on signing the easements, according to Chris Nelson, special counsel to the borough of Mantoloking.

"But I don't think they've digested it fully. Then, hopefully, their lawyers give them some good advice," Nelson said Wednesday. "I mean, what we'd hate to see is that these folks pursue this case and they just wind up spending a lot of money for nothing."

The town has not made an offer yet to those homeowners for the easements but expects it will be only a nominal amount, he said.

There are still 15 holdouts in Toms River and four in Ocean City. Officials there also are not offering that much for the easements.

"One or two people came in. We've got two other property owners talking to our township attorney, and we'll see what happens," said Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher. "As far we're concerned, it's kind of an unconditional surrender. Either they sign the easements, or we're going to go ahead with it."

If there's no agreement, the towns will use eminent domain to acquire the land so the dune construction  can begin in June to protect the Shore communities from the kind of devastation unleashed last year by Superstorm Sandy.