By DON STINE
Loch Arbour just got the ultimate gift that will keep on giving for years to come.
Deal residents Jack and Joyce Kassin, owners of 3.5 acres of privately-owned beachfront in Loch Arbour, have donated about 1.1 acres of their property to the village in a deal to prevent the village from undertaking efforts to seize all of their property.
“A really fair agreement by both parties was ironed out,” Deputy Mayor Alfred J. Cheswick said.
The deal also creates a beach easement which will allow Loch Arbour to participate in the upcoming federal beach replenishment project which was in jeopardy along private property without such easements.
“We now have that issue behind us,” Mayor Paul Fernicola said.
The donated beachfront property extends along Ocean Place from Edgemont to Euclid Avenues for about half a block, or 162 linear feet.
Fernicola said the property equals about 1.1 acre of beachfront and, adding that amount to the village’s current beach front of 325 linear feet, increases the village beachfront by about 50 percent.
Another caveat in the deal is that if anyone tries to take Kassin’s remaining land under eminent domain or condemnation then the portion he donated to Loch Arbour would revert back to his ownership under eminent domain or condemnation.
The deal was announced at last week’s Board of Commissioners hearing.
Village officials said they want to acquire the property, especially in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, to protect public infrastructure, mitigate future storm damage, allow the property to be used as a public beach and recreational facility, and protect and preserve open space and other precious natural resources.
By adopting a special ordinance, which was rescinded at last week’s meeting, the village would provide the mechanism to acquire the property and any improvements on it, either through an outright purchase or by using the power of eminent domain.
Fernicola said the agreement with the Kassins now makes all of that unnecessary.
“I do think this is monumental for the village and we can now move forward hand in hand and not be adversaries,” he said.
Village Attorney Guy Ryan said he is “hard-pressed’ to think of any such other agreement like this beachfront exchange.
“This is probably an acquisition of historic proportion,” he said.
Fernicola said that numerous meetings between the Kassins and village representatives took place to put the deal together.
“It was intense at times but always held with the greatest civility,” he said.
Kassin also thanked the governing body for their efforts in working out a deal.
“I think this is a win-win for everybody and I’m very satisfied with it. I look forward to being a good neighbor for the next few decades and it should all get only better and better.
A deed restriction will also be placed on development of the rest of Kassin’s property that prohibits it from being developed with commercial or residential uses.
In exchange, a 973-square-foot cabana , which was damaged during Sandy, will be a permitted use and can be rebuilt on its same original footprint, with the stipulation that another 300 square feet of space can be reconstructed with in the building itself. The cabana will be raised six feet above the beach and a few storage sheds and some slated fencing along some of its perimeter will also be allowed.
Kassin and his wife, Joyce, who live in Deal, bought the oceanfront property, formerly operated as a commercial beach club, as their own private beach club in 1995. The property has about 650 feet of frontage along the Atlantic Ocean and is about 300 feet deep.