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Sandy Victims Oppose Summer Construction Ban

6-18-14

By Brenda Flanagan
Correspondent

Roses bloom where a beach bungalow once faced the bay. Number 3282 marks another empty lot next door, where Nancy Chabot’s house sat for years until Sandy wrecked the little bungalow. For now, she’s renting an apartment, but still gets her mail here. Recently, however, her plans to rebuild hit a wall.

“It’s been a nightmare, ever since this whole thing happened. It’s nothing but a nightmare and this club is just adding to it,” Chabot said.

That private club is Ocean Beach III near Lavallette — more than 980 homes, where few structures escaped Sandy with no damage. Construction crews swarm over the landscape daily.

But on June 15, the club’s board of trustees ordered all major construction must stop for the summer season.

“Everybody that’s in the process of building, it’s not right. It’s not right,” said Chabot.

“It’s basically kicking people when they’re down. It probably would’ve been a lot easier to stomach had the club said we’re gonna put this up for a general membership vote,” said Drew Chabot, Nancy’s son.

Summer’s the high season here, when renters pay thousands per week and homeowners kick back on vacay to enjoy surf, sand and sun without listening to contractors making a racket.

“Banging and hammering and noise,” said homeowner Bill Baumann. “That’s not good. It’s waking up the grand-kids early in the morning and we’re down here to have a nice summer.”

From bayside to oceanfront, now neighbors argue, disagree over construction.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I don’t think they should stop it totally for the summer because people need to get their houses done. It’s a year and a half now,” said renter Gina Barry.

Most beach clubs in this area banned summer construction decades ago. But last summer after Sandy, everybody — even this club — relaxed the rules.

“We’d asked for contractors not to begin before 8 and end by 5, to not work on holidays and Sundays,” said Board of Trustees President Jack Houseworth.

Houseworth says contractors refused to follow the rules and created hazardous conditions.

“Nails flying around, glass left in the area, metals, debris not picked up. Like I said, violations of all of our rules and regulations we had put in place for the summer,” he said.

So the ban’s back this season. The board will grant short extensions to some homeowners if reconstruction’s almost completed. Nancy finally cut through red tape and qualified for government grants but now she’s running out of time.

“We have to be finished building within six months or you lose it,” she said. “I’ve been here all my life. It’s never gonna be the same again. Never.”

She’s appealed to the governor’s office for help. Other members have threatened a lawsuit.