|Photo by Tim Hart|
Construction equipment was on Tim Hart's
riparian grant for his dock in July.
Tim Hart, who lives on Cedar Bonnet Island adjacent to ongoing construction of the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridge, has asked the state Department of Transportation for $14,000 to repair damage to his dock. Although the dock was already damaged by Superstorm Sandy, he said Schiavone Construction Co., the contractor hired for the current project, went onto his riparian rights without his permission and knocked down poles on his dock while workers cut out a drainpipe last summer that had been put in place by Stafford Township prior to construction.
The DOT recently denied Hart’s request for compensation because the dock was in disrepair before the start of the bridge work.
“The damages to Mr. Hart’s dock were the result of Superstorm Sandy, which he has stated, and not caused by work associated with the Route 72 Project,” said Steve Schapiro, DOT communications director. “NJDOT sympathizes with the losses homeowners and businesses suffered due to the storm and any claims for damage resulting from the hurricane should be directed to the Governor’s Office on Recovery and Rebuilding, or his insurance company.”
|Photo via NJDOT|
His dock was in severe disrepair prior to
the start of bridge construction last year.
Hart, a Stafford Township native who is Ocean County’s official historian, noted the pipe at the end of the street had helped rainfall drain into the bay. Now that it has been removed, he stated, water gets backed up in front of his house. He said he recently received a $400 electric bill because Atlantic City Electric refused to read his meter because his property was flooded.
“I’m trying very hard to cooperate, but I’m getting really irritated,” said Hart.
He is concerned that future upkeep of the drainage system will have a harmful impact on his home and dock.
Schaprio noted the DOT is improving the drainage system as part of the bridge project.
“The original outfall pipe is susceptible to clogging and difficult to maintain,” he stated. “NJDOT determined the best course of action was to remove the pipe and replace it in a location farther away from Mr. Hart’s property.”
The pipe is expected to be put in before the completion of the project. But work cannot restart until July due to state environmental rules that bar work in the water between Jan. 1 and June 30, Schapiro said.
Because his house is not built on pilings, Hart added, vibrations during bridge construction have been substantial. He said he will need to have an evaluation after construction to assess the long-term damage.
“I’ve been to every meeting that (the DOT) had for the last eight years. I told them they should buy my house because I was in the way, and they refused,” Hart stated.
Schapiro said the DOT has been in contact with Hart about his desire to have the agency purchase his home since 2011 and has met with Hart several times in the past year to discuss his concerns.
“He was informed years ago there was no need for the department to acquire his property because the work being done is within NJDOT right-of-way (ROW) and not on his property,” Schapiro stated. “As a policy, the department attempts to limit the ROW acquisition necessary for our projects to minimize the effect on residents and businesses as best as possible, and to use our limited resources in the most cost effective manner.”
Hart said he plans to continue pursuing the issue by hiring a lawyer.
“I think it’s a reasonable solution to have them pay for my dock,” he stated.
— Kelley Anne Essinger
This article was published in The SandPaper.