TOMS RIVER - Toms River council members approved a resolution urging the use of eminent domain to build protective dunes.
Ortley Beach residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Superstorm Sandy want a solid dune built from Barnegat Inlet to Manasquan Inlet.
Paula Belotta has lived there for 16 years. She would like hold-out property owners to sign voluntarily easements, so the Army Corps of Engineers can widen the beach and build up a dune that she believes would save her home and others from future storms.
Belotta says she does not like the idea of eminent domain, but believes the work needs to be done.
Marie Paglio also says she doesn't approve of eminent domain, but she says, "People that won't do the easements on the island are jeopardizing the rest of us that also have property values."
Maria Maruca, vice president of the Toms River Township Council, believes they are doing their part to get homeowners together on the dune project. "We're meeting with homeowners
associations, meeting with residents, urging them to sign the easements. If they don't sign the easements, we're going to eminent domain," Maruca says.
The vote at the meeting was unanimous, but it is not binding on neighboring communities. The township is urging neighboring communities between Barnegat and Manasquan inlets to do the same, creating an uninterrupted dune to shield homes and property from future storms.
The plan for the dune project calls for widening the beach to 50 yards and building the dune 22 to 25 feet high.