New Jersey needs the Assembly to pass the Public Access Bill (A4221) before more harm comes to the shore. If signed into law, the bill would enable the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to protect public access to tidal waterfronts for bathing, surfing, swimming, fishing, and other shore-related activities. It will also address chronic problems that limit public access, such as inadequate parking, restroom facilities, walkover structures, and handicapped access.
A4221 was sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin as a companion to Senate Bill S.1074. The Senate bill was passed 36-4 on June 21, 2018. This was in response to a 2015 court case invalidating the NJDEP’s power to regulate public access outside of issuing Waterfront Development permits. The Assembly bill is currently stalled in committee.
New Jersey’s shore and riverfront communities are diverse, active places, where people come to enjoy the tidal waters and the waterfront. The protection of tidal waterways and their shores is necessary for a variety of reasons including tourism and recreation.
Without clarification and direction to the NJDEP, municipalities and private landowners have attempted and will continue their attempts to limit parking, close off access points, and restrict the public from enjoying beaches and waterfronts the public has a right to access.
The inaction of the Assembly has caused major problems along the shore. On Wednesday, December 12, 2018, the Borough of Deal passed Ordinance #1181 to vacate a public access point at the end of Neptune Avenue. This access has historically been used by local surfers, anglers and the general public alike. The access will be sold to the adjacent homeowner through ICC Neptune, LLC, a subset of Crown Acquisitions, for $1,000,000. Crown is a New York corporation with millions of dollars in real estate assets.
Up and down the coast, public beach access points are being lost to greed and corruption. In order to placate beachfront residents, municipalities frequently attempt to limit access by vacating street ends with access to the beach. In Deal, a borough with approximately 1.6 miles of coastline, there are only six legitimate access points with severely limited or restricted parking regulations. The purpose is to keep people away.
We need to Assembly to take action now. We want to Public Access Bill posted for a vote so it can be sent to the Governor’s desk.