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April 28, 2009
 
Re: NJDEP Beach Access Regulations Will Not Become Law

Dear Mayor:

The New Jersey Supreme Court issued an order on Thursday, April 23rd, deciding not to consider an appeal filed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) regarding its policies on public access to beaches and bay fronts in the State.  The ruling by the court means that the Borough of Avalon, under the leadership of Mayor Martin Pagliughi and the Borough Council, has successfully defeated the NJDEP on this issue, and the regulations that the Department tried to impose on coastal towns in New Jersey will not become law.

On November 19, 2008, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court invalidated new public access rules that the NJDEP had adopted by regulation and included in a new version of the State Aid Agreement, which shore communities must sign in order to get beach replenishment funding.  The regulations mandated 24 hour a day, seven day a week access to beaches, bay fronts, and marinas. The proposed regulations also mandated that shore communities provide parking spaces and public bathrooms near the beach but did not indicate how many parking spaces would be needed, nor did they provide any plan for local towns to accomplish these goals.

In the NJDEP’s petition for certification to the New Jersey Supreme Court, it argued that “…The Appellate Division’s decision improperly limits the department’s ability to ensure meaningful public access for all publicly-funded shore protection projects, including reasonable provisions for amenities which are essential to providing such access”.

Avalon argued that the public access issues were flawed because they would permit beach access even during coastal storms and other events that threaten public safety.  Avalon, and other coastal communities, would have needed to secure permission from the NJDEP before they could legally close beaches during weekends and overnight hours when storm conditions or other hazards are present.

If you have any concerns or questions about this communication, please contact Deborah M. Kole, Staff Attorney, at the League, ex. 137, or at dkole@njslom.com

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel
Executive Director

      

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