City Council Approves Private Dune Maintenance

Property owners on New Jersey’s barrier islands know the importance of the dunes for protection from the ocean. We in Brigantine value highly the substantial, effective dunes we have with their diversity of plants to catch, hold and stabilize the sand.

At its October 3rd meeting City Council approved an amendment to the City Code regarding dune protection.

This amendment allows private property owners within certain areas contiguous to the dunes to apply for a City permit for the trimming and stumping, by them, of selected growth on these natural bulwarks.

I spoke in opposition to this amendment. Here’s why.

These dunes are public property, to be maintained and strengthened in the public interest by the elected public body using public revenue. The public purpose is to carry out a consistent, appropriate, transparent and unbiased dune-protective policy.

Unfortunately, despite the guise of environmentalism used to advocate such random private cutting, the paramount motive in the past appears to be “improving one’s view of the ocean”. That is not a public purpose.

A governing body cannot justify “creating rights in public property over and above the rights of everyone else who owns the dunes”, a crucial point stated by Councilman Rick DeLucry, the only Councilperson to vote against the amendment, and one which was ignored by the rest of Council.

It’s irresponsible and makes no sense for government to weaken a beautiful natural barrier against ocean storms by relinquishing its legal responsibility for public property to certain private property owners with a personal, self-benefiting interest in altering that public property.

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