Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Jersey beach lesson: Sue first, negotiate later

That's the lesson some New Jersey shore communities may take away from the latest chapter in the state's carrot-and-stick campaign to make all its beaches...and waterfronts...and some bathrooms, too, accessible to rich and poor alike.

Back in August, we provided our own view on the issue. So, you should first read: New Jersey's epic beach-access battle, then hurry back and we'll pick up the latest development in the story...

Caught up? OK.

Since August, some communities have agreed to DEP's terms in return for guaranteed sand deliveries for their eroding beaches. Some replenishment projects have moved forward but a lot more was left undone. Some towns (and homeowners) were still negotiating or holding out.

Last week, the saga took a dramatic turn when a court, responding to a case brought by the town of Avalon, blocked the DEP regulations after deciding that the state had overreached its authority.

It was a big win for municipalities who didn't cave in to the state's demands for public bathrooms and public parking and 24-hour beach access. And it may prove to be a bitter lesson for those that did sign agreements with the DEP, because they still may be legally bound by them.

A DEP spokespersons said the Department doesn't know for sure, but their lawyers are consulting with the Attorney General's office and should have a position on the question soon.

Decision on Cape beach access leaves sand plans in limbo
Editorial: 24-hour beach access / DEP overreached

NJ Court Throws Out Beach-Access Rules

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