New Jersey Couple Gets $284K in Dispute Over Beach House

April 9, 2012

A New Jersey couple whose beach house was destroyed by a storm 50 years ago has finally been awarded compensation for it, but may appeal the award.

Barely two years after Edward and Nancy Klumpp built their beach house in Avalon, the historic storm of 1962 destroyed it along with much of the surrounding beach and dunes.

The town took over the property as part of a beach repair project in the mid-1960s and, until a 2010 Supreme Court ruling, had not had to pay for it.

In a ruling released this week, a state judge ruled Avalon must pay the Klumpps about $284,000 for the property. The couple had sought $5.5 million.

Attorney Richard Hluchan said he planned to appeal.

The case revolved around the concept of inverse condemnation, which gives a government the right to take property without initial compensation in some situations – to repair a damaged beach and dunes, for example – while giving a property owner six years to file a claim.

The Klumpps claimed Avalon officials didn’t notify them the property had been legally taken until 2005. Until then, they’d paid taxes on the property each year, albeit for a small sum since it was then valued at a few hundred dollars. The borough’s official map still listed the property as privately owned, according to court papers.

When Avalon ultimately acknowledged that it had legally taken the property in 1962, it claimed that as a result, the Klumpps had failed to file their claim within the six-year statute of limitations. An appeals court sided with the town, but the Supreme Court reversed and accused the town of “skirting its obligations” in dealing with the Klumpps.

This week’s ruling held that the Klumpps were entitled to what the property was worth when the town took it over, plus interest. The ruling was first reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

An attorney for the town didn’t respond to a phone message seeking comment.

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