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November 21, 2015

Decade-long dune wrangle drags on in Margate

Town wants to rely just on bulkheading

The decade-long plan to create one continuous dune system the length of Absecon Island – home to Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport from north to south – is back in court.

Margate and 87 property-owners are hoping to throw sand in the gears of state and federal government – not on the beach.

Ten years ago, the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed an agreement to build the dunefield on the island’s oceanside.

While other communities have moved ahead, Margate has dragged its feet in the sand for the past five years.

The community is hoping to use a bulkhead, rather than a dune system, to protect properties from the ravages of flooding, storm surge and the infiltration of tons of sand onto city streets and beachfront properties.

After the island was slammed by Superstorm Sandy, the state has aggressively moved ahead with plans to seize right-aways via eminent domain, allowing the Corps to build the dunes.

A lawyer for the state, Stephen Eisdorfer, told a judge Friday that the city and property-owner should have made a challenge a decade ago, according to The Press of Atlantic City.

A Superior Court judge told both sides he expects to rule on the matter in about two weeks.

While bulkheads can provide protection, most coastal experts say they harm the beach, scouring it out where the force of waves slams into the wall.

Dunes, on the other hand, disperse the energy of wind and waves as the force is dispersed across a far greater impact area.