Folks we really don’t know what happened in Trenton yesterday. A bill regarding public access to tidal waterways was expected to advance out of the Assembly Environment Committee. But at the last minute, the bill was amended and there was no hearing or vote on the bill, only a discussion.
The aim of this bill was to actually put the ideas of the Public Trust Doctrine into state law in NJ. Its origins go all the way back to ancient Roman times and it remained an important legal concept through English Common law and then into colonial times here in NJ. Actually putting it into law in the state and saying it is the NJ DEP’s job to follow the Public Trust Doctrine was a big deal. As such, we were really looking forward to supporting and testifying in favor of this bill.
One of those changes to the bill was where they literally removed the words “Trust Doctrine” from the title. Not a good start.
No vote was taken, but testimony from both sides was heard. Environmental groups and access advocates like Vincent LePore of Long Branch supported the bill but opposed the amendments. The League of Municipalities, Business and Industry Association, and real estate interests supported the amendments to the bill.
The testimony of our activists was mostly about how we are losing access in places like Deal while the legislature drags out the process on this public access bill for a third year.
Stay tuned for more on this.