U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb in Camden has extended her order halting a $74 million beach replenishment project by the State of New Jersey and the Army Corps of Engineers to allow the state to seek a resolution with the uncooperative coastal city of Margate.

Margate had filed suit to stop the state and the corps from initiating a beach replenishment project that will involve building dunes on Margate's flat beaches.

Potential bidders agreed to extend their bids until Jan. 26. The bids were set to expire this month, prompting the state Department of Environmental Protection to seize necessary beachfront easements from Margate with an administrative order.

The judge disapproved, and sent the state to either negotiate a solution or go through a more lengthy process of eminent domain in state court.

Philadelphia lawyer Jordan Rand, one of Margate's hired legal team being paid for out of a $200,000 legal fund authorized by Margate's voters in a November referendum, told the judge in a letter Tuesday that the extension agreed to by the bidders will allow the parties "to engage in further discussions."

Margate voters want the state to leave them out of the dune Gov. Christie ordered built after Hurricane Sandy along the entire 127-mile length of the Jersey coast. They say the existing bulkhead is sufficient and point out that the most damaging flooding came from the back bays.

- Amy S. Rosenberg