Author Topic: Editorial: Barriers remain to NJ Beach Access  (Read 393 times)

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Online SeaCliff

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    • Email Editorial: Barriers remain to NJ Beach Access
« on: April 01, 2012, 01:58:15 PM »
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    After a year of review and public comments, the state Department of Environmental Protection on Monday released its revised rule proposal for beach and waterfront access. Sadly, it’s as deficient and toothless as we feared it would be.

    DEP Commissioner Bob Martin can crow all he wants about how the proposal represents “common-sense rules to improve and enhance public access to New Jersey’s beaches, bays and waterways.” But the fact remains that the revised rules cede too much power to local towns to come up with their own beach access plans.

    Beachgoers have one more shot at fighting these restrictive rules. Hearings are planned for April 18 in Long Branch and Avalon. The public should demand that the DEP rules be clear and absolute when it comes to access and the need to provide adequate public facilities along the state’s 127-mile coastline.

    Too many beachfront towns along the Jersey Shore have an overly parochial sense of what constitutes “beach access.” They believe it means providing as little access as they can get away with, in violation of both the spirit and the letter of the legal principle known as the public trust doctrine.

    That doctrine maintains that the state holds ownership of tidal waters in trust for use by all its citizens — not just those whose ZIP code happens to include a beach.

    The DEP changed the proposal to provide, it says, “greater transparency and public involvement in development of municipal public access plans by ensuring that proposed access plans are posted on the DEP website and that the public has an opportunity to comment on them.” This plan needs more than public input. It needs assurances that all beaches will be easily accessible to the public.

    Even the revisions hailed as good news to recreational fishermen — providing them with enhanced public access by ensuring that municipal access plans include defined and guaranteed points of access for day and night fishing — don’t go far enough.

    As fishermen and other beachgoers have noted, two-hour street parking limits in some towns, such as Mantoloking and Deal, seem designed to thwart access.

    The bill also takes a step back by no longer requiring marina owners to provide additional public access as a condition of obtaining waterfront permits to improve their businesses. Now, the rule requires public access only during business hours, and requires new access only when new marinas are developed.

    In its new document, the DEP acknowledges the concern that some towns will restrict beach access, given the chance.

    Acknowledging something is far from fixing it. Summer is near, but if the DEP has its way, some beaches will remain far out of reach for many.
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    Offline Crackie Onassis

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    Re: Editorial: Barriers remain to NJ Beach Access
    « Reply #1 on: April 01, 2012, 06:27:40 PM »
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  • In other words, NJ Beach towns to DEP; "Benny go home!"
    So heavy you can't even pick it up.