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Governor Christie Weighs in on LBI
More than 600 people gathered for the town hall at St. Francis Parish Center, where Christie explained further details about the $1.83 billion announced Monday. Christie urged residents and business owners interested in taking advantage of the program to visit www.sandyhelp.nj.gov or call 855-sandybz for grant information.
Not surprisingly, many of the questions from many of the Long Beach Island-area residents in attendance centered on rebuilding and applying for funds to help with rebuilding.
Christie said that eligible residents may be able to obtain grants of up to $150,000 to help elevate their homes and that businesses could apply for grants of up to $50,000.
He also pledged help for communities, including funds to help rebuild sand dunes throughout the Jersey Shore.
Asked by a Loveladies resident about the easement issue and potential holdouts affecting the dune replenishment project, Christie said: "We are building these dunes and we are building these dunes whether you consent or not."
He said that many residents who have continued holding out on signing the easements claim they are concerned about using the easements to gain access to the property and use it for other purposes, but he called it an "excuse to not have their view blocked."
U.S. Rep Jon Runyan (R-3) wrote to the mayors of a number of Ocean County municipalities in March urging them to secure all necessary easements for the massive dune and beach project by May 1, the date the Army Corps of Engineers must submit a work plan to Congress.
The project's design – which would include the construction of approximately 25-foot high dunes, 75 foot wide berms and 175 acres of dune grass in the project area – was completed in 2007, but has languished after some oceanfront homeowners refused to sign easements that would allow the work to be completed, and maintained in the future.
Interviewed after the town hall meeting, Harvey Cedars Mayor Jon Oldham said that a Superior Court date on the easement issue in that town is scheduled for May 17. He said Christie's comments about pushing forward with the replenishment project "sounds great to me. "
By: Colleen Platt