Thursday, September 8, 2016

Enviros unhappy with latest NJDEP beach-access proposal

Critics contend new rules fail to ensure unfettered access promised by bipartisan bill now before Legislature

Tom Johnson of NJ Spotlight reports:

The Christie administration is proposing minor adjustments to the rules governing access to beaches and the shoreline, setting up a new battle with legislators and conservationists over the issue.
In a new regulation proposed on Tuesday, the state Department of Environmental Protection is recommending modifications in its rules detailing when and how it will require access to tidal waters, a source of controversy for many years.
The proposal is designed to accommodate state policies made in response to a court ruling late last year that overturned the agency’s authority to require access to waterways under certain permitting programs, according to the regulation.
But conservation groups and environmentalists were quick to denounce the proposal, faulting it as falling short of guaranteeing access to beaches and the shoreline as widely as a bill pending in the Legislature.
“They are proposing the same rules that limited beach access, were opposed by the public, and were struck down by the courts,’’ said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “With these rules, we are going back to the day when towns want our money to pay for their beaches, but do not want us to access our beaches.’’
In its proposal, the department noted the changes it is making in the regulation are consistent with recent court rulings and legislation ensuring “public access is provided to tidal waters and their shoreline in a cost effective manner.’’
Citing the importance of public access to beaches as a key component of the state’s coastal tourism industry, the proposal said the changes “will confirm and strengthen the continuation of that access.’’

Read the full story here

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