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A healthy dune system that withstood Superstorm Sandy protects property north of 40th Street in Ocean City.Ocean City is preparing to take property rights from 10 beachfront owners who refuse to allow the construction of dunes and the widening of beaches in front of their homes.The city must obtain easements from all the owners who have rights to unbuildable land on the beach before a long-awaited project to restore eroded beaches between 34th Street and Corson’s Inlet State Park can begin.The approved Army Corps of Engineers beach-replenishment work on the southern end of Ocean City is scheduled for the fall.The city needed about 100 easements, primarily in the area between 24th and 40th streets, when it started collecting in summer 2013. By October, 39 easements remained outstanding for the project area between 34th and 59th streets. The number is now only 10, according to City Solicitor Dorothy McCrosson, who expects that one more signed agreement may arrive this week.The 10 properties are in an area between 34th and 40th streets where a wide and healthy dune system survived Superstorm Sandy.One of the holdouts, Nicholas Talotta, was awarded $70,000 in a lawsuit that ruled that Ocean City must compensate him for his loss of ocean views from dunes constructed in the 1990s. Talotta had signed a 1995 easement agreement that promised dune heights would be limited. The city is appealing the amount of the award.McCrosson said the city is drafting letters to each of the 10 owners offering payment for the appraised value of the land. All of the property in question is on the ocean side of the bulkhead, and because building is prohibited there, the values are relatively small.After a period of good-faith negotiations (a minimum of 14 days), the city will file declarations of taking for any property where an easement agreement does not exist. The city would then own the property, and litigation would decide what compensation is fair. A recent state Supreme Court case ruled that the courts must consider not only the loss of value to a beachfront property from views blocked by dunes, but also the added protective value the dunes bring to a property.The federal Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Protection must complete a project partnership agreement and review Ocean City’s appraisals before the offer letters can go out, McCrosson said.But Ocean City is well ahead of schedule to have agreements or title in place before the project starts, she said.Beaches at Ocean City’s southern end were severely eroded even before Superstorm Sandy struck in October 2012, but the storm’s record flooding wiped out dunes and pushed much of the beach onto the streets.A hodgepodge of different deeds give some but not all beachfront owners rights to the public beach area in front of their homes. City Council passed an ordinance in the fall that authorizes the city to use “whatever means necessary” to acquire any beach property in the project area.