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Deadlines for submitting legal briefs and an evidentiary hearing date have been set in the federal lawsuit by five Margate homeowners trying to block a dune-building project near their beachfront homes.

A decision on whether to issue an injunction stopping the dune project may come soon after the hearing Dec. 13, said Jordan M. Rand, of Dilworth Paxson in Philadelphia, attorney for the homeowners.

He said the federal court laid out a schedule Friday morning giving defendants, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Protection, a deadline of Nov. 28 for submitting briefs.

His clients must have their second brief in by Dec. 2, Rand said.

Then the court will hold the evidentiary hearing Dec. 13, Rand said.

"The court typically acts pretty quickly" on this type of case, he said.

A previously set hearing for the morning of Nov. 30 has been cancelled, said Rand.

State and federal officials had said the project would start this fall and be finished sometime next summer. The project would build new dunes in Longport, Margate and southern Ventnor and replenish other dunes in Ventnor and Atlantic City.

The suit contends the plan to create 12.75-foot elevation dunes about 20 feet out from Margate’s bulkhead would create drainage problems on the beach block, allowing water to pool behind dunes and in street ends.

The homeowners allege the project’s current design for Margate would create health hazards, odors and standing water at their doorsteps.

The low bidder on the entire project from Longport to Atlantic City was Weeks Marine Inc., at $63.1 million for the base and $76.1 for all the options, including additional sand and work on outfall pipe extensions, Army Corps spokesman Stephen Rochette said.

Rochette said Friday no contract has been awarded, but he could not comment further because of the pending litigation.

The homeowners involved in the suit are Steven Erlbaum of South Barclay Avenue, Frank Binswanger Jr. of South Iroquois Avenue, John Turchi of South Sumner Avenue, David Boath of South Fredericksburg Avenue and Ron Cohen of South Argyle Avenue.

The dune construction would be paid for by the federal government, while the replenishment part of the project in Ventnor and Atlantic City will require the typical split of 65 percent from the federal government, about 26 percent from the state and about 9 percent from the local government, Rochette has said.

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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