Beachfront homeowners who refuse to sign easements allowing the construction of dunes in front of their houses don't just endanger their own properties - they endanger their neighbors' properties, too.
We must have written a version of that sentence a dozen times over the years.
Sandy proved us right, particularly in the Holgate section of Long Beach Township. But perhaps never has a "we told you so" been less satisfying.
Long Beach Township has been the center of the dune battle. It has been unable to finish a major beach-replenishment project approved nearly 20 years ago because 170 homeowners had refused to sign the necessary easements for work to begin, or had gone to court claiming that the easements were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
These people fret about losing their views. They worry the easements will mean a tawdry boardwalk will someday be built in front of their homes. But they are really just myopic and selfish. And Sandy made that abundantly clear.
In Holgate, property owners behind those who refused to sign easements suffered major damage and ended up with massive amounts of sand in their streets. (And the stories were much the same up and down the coast. Dunes worked. Margate and Longport, which refused to take part in a dune project years ago, had major flooding and streets inundated with sand. In Ventnor and Atlantic City, where some have complained about the height of the dunes, there was little to no damage landward of the dunes.)
But the good news: Many of the easement holdouts in Long Beach Township are reconsidering.
"When we first came back that first day, I just cried when I saw what happened. I guess you could say it was a wake-up call," said Edgar Newman, one of the holdouts who has changed his mind.
"We're going to sign. What happened there is awful, and to just see the devastation," said Michael Kudra, of Yardley, Pa., another of the holdouts.
"Of course I will sign. I almost lost my home in the storm. Anyone who doesn't sign is an idiot, and they deserve for their home to be washed away," said Neville Kotwal, of Doylestown, Pa., who bought his Holgate home in 2010 and said he had been unaware of the easement issue.
So better late than never.
And the rest of you holdouts? What's your excuse now for endangering your neighbors?