Thursday, April 21, 2016

Task force recommends changes to NJ beach-access law

New Jersey's shore communities could use some of the money they collect in beach badge fees to fund additional public access points to the shoreline under a proposal from a task force studying ways to improve the state's beach access law.
Wayne Parry reports for The Associated Press:
The panel recommends increasing the overall amount of access points by returning to previous standards that mandated them every quarter-mile, instead of the current standard of every half mile.
The task force was comprised of business interests and some of the state's leading public access advocates, and it became necessary after a court last December struck down New Jersey's beach access regulations. A hastily passed bill restored the state Department of Environmental Protection's authority to impose access regulations, but did not get into ways to improve public access.
Recommendations made by the business side of the panel include exempting utilities and some industry that bar public access on safety grounds from having to fund access points elsewhere, and eliminating or reducing fees for compliance with public access mandates.
Not surprisingly, most of the recommendations were supported by one half of the panel and opposed by the other. It will fall to the state senate and Environment Committee to craft a bill setting forth new beach access standards, something its chairman Sen. Bob Smith, a Middlesex County Democrat, predicted would happen in the fall. The bill would apply not only to beaches and bays, but to urban waterways throughout the state.
Read the full story here

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