With a May 1st deadline for towns to submit easements for federal dune replenishment projects, Governor Chris Christie isn’t backing off the beachfront residents who refuse to sign the document.

Governor's Office/Tim Larsen

During a town hall event in Manasquan the governor fielded a question from an Ortley Beach resident regarding why property owners and municipal officials weren’t speaking, even with the deadline looming.

Christie agreed that parties needed to start talking, noting the concerns by opponents of the easements over property rights were unfounded.

“All we’re asking for is construction easements.  I don’t want to own the property, I’m not taking the property. I’m not going to react kindly to people complaining about losing their view.”

Amid applause from the packed audience in the Manasquan High School gym, Christie said the issue boils down to one of civil responsibility. If the dunes weren’t constructed, then other homes are put in more risk.

Use of Eminent Domain an Option

“The fact is we live in a civil society, which means at times we give up some of our freedoms to make it better for the whole society. We do it all the time.”

Christie says while his power in the matter is limited, but if need be he will consider condemnation (buying out land through eminent domain).

”But every dollar I that I spend to do that in rewarding who are being selfish, is money I can’t spend on victims that are being harmed.”

He notes places like Ortley Beach, which got hit the hardest by the storm, need to have the dune systems built or else future storms will make the land unlivable.

“We’re just going to wind up in the same place where no one is going to rebuild there and it’s going to wind up a ghost town on that strip on Route 35.”

While the May 1st deadline has been set for municipalities to submit their easements, Christie says, “It’s a loose deadline.”

“We can get it extended if we need to, but I’m going to work to get as much as I can done by May 1st, and then if I have a reason to justify an extension, like there’s more work to do and we’re making progress.  I think the Army Corps of Engineers will give it to me because they got plenty of work to do.”