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Dunes vs. property rights in storm-battered N.J.

These sand dunes in Harvey Cedars, N.J., protected oceanfront homes. Many homeowners are reluctant to give up their view but Governor Chris Christie has little sympathy.

Wayne Parry/Associated Press

These sand dunes in Harvey Cedars, N.J., protected oceanfront homes. Many homeowners are reluctant to give up their view but Governor Chris Christie has little sympathy.

HARVEY CEDARS, N.J. — Even after all the damage Hurricane Sandy caused to the New Jersey coast, many homeowners are still refusing to allow the government access to build protective dunes and widen beaches. They fear it will ruin their ocean views and lead to public encroachment.

Thousands of homes were saved from the October storm because they had dune systems protecting them from pounding surf. Many places that did not had catastrophic damage.

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But the prospect of entertainment districts, with boardwalks or amusement piers, worries many in oceanfront areas where even smaller houses sell for several million dollars.

The Army Corps of Engineers will not begin coastal protection projects without signed easements from all the affected homeowners in a community, giving the Corps permission to access the property. The hurricane has only intensified an effort that had been underway since at least 2008 to get the holdouts to sign.

Governor Chris Christie has little sympathy for lost views. ‘‘For the people that didn’t want a dune to block their view, they now no longer have a house to block the view from,’’ he said. ‘‘So, how about that choice?’’ He said he may seek to force the holdouts to accept the dune work, either through eminent domain or some other governmental maneuver.

The borough of Mantoloking, which was nearly obliterated by Sandy, has signed easements or verbal commitments from 120 of the 128 oceanfront owners it needs to proceed with beach work. And many of the towns on Long Beach ­Island are closing in on their final pockets of holdouts, five years after first asking.

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