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DEP Rules Eliminate Beach Access

Date : Mon, 19 Mar 2012 16:51:14 -0400

For Immediate Release
March 19, 2012 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

*DEP Rules Eliminate Beach Access*

Today the Department of Environmental Protection adopted the Beach Access Rules, but re-proposed with minor changes. The rule will still limit public access to our beaches and urban waterfronts. Even after thousands of people came out in opposition of these rules the DEP still did not listen to the public, but rather special interest by blocking the people from getting to the beaches and waterfronts. Some of the changes made may make access worse, while others may make access better in some areas for fisherman. There will be two hearings for the public to give input on these changes of the rules. Overall these rules still violate the Public Trust Doctrine and limit the public’s right to access beaches, bays, and waters ways.

“The DEP’s Beach Access Rules were re-proposed with minor changes. These changes still limit the public right to get to the water ways and beaches they own. Calling these public access rules is an oxymoron; they do the opposite. They violate public trust and limit the public’s right to access their beaches and waterways,” *NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said.*

The New Jersey Sierra Club believes these rule are a violation of the Public Trust Doctrine. New Jersey Supreme Court Rules that all tidal waters belong to the people of New Jersey. These rules for a municipal access plan are still too vague and will be used to get around providing adequate access. Since the rules are so vague this will let the towns do whatever they please instead of providing the necessary access. These rules will be open for political games and subject to abuse. The rules as proposed take the side of developers and special interest over giving the public access. In the past where there was not proper access developers can pay into a fund to provide for that access. This fund has been eliminated allowing developers to block access and not have to mitigate for the loss of that access.

“The changes are so minor that not only do they violate the Public Trust, but the changes have made these rules even more open to abuse,” *said Tittel.* “The rules actually give the towns power to limit public access from a current quarter mile to now a half mile. Towns can also close existing access and concentrate them into one area like a beach that goes underwater or an area where there is not good parking. This giver towns the power to further limit public access and if the towns do not follow their public access plans there is no penalty.”**

* * Under these rules there are no standards for towns regarding where or how to provide for parking as well as requirements for bathroom or changing areas for people who are using the beaches. There were attempts by Lisa Jackson when she was the head of the DEP to provide more access, however those rules did have their flaws they still allowed for more access. Under the old rules towns were required to have beach access every quarter mile now it is only every half mile and if towns cannot provide access they could get waivers. These rules are weak now, but towns could even waive access limiting even more access to our waterways.

“This is another example of Christie’s Administration roll back of rules in environmental protection, whether it is the bad Waiver Rule, clean energy monies, or now the Beach Access Rules. This Administration is trying to undo 30 years of environmental protection including access to our beaches,” *Jeff Tittel said.*

These rules limit access in urban areas more than anywhere else by being used to wall off our waterfront from the public. The rules did recognize the Hudson River Walkway only because that was won in a court case. This not only undermines access, but hurts urban revitalization because having access to the waterways is important in urban revitalization. Urban waterway access is a successful redevelopment tool that will be denied to New Jersey’s cities under the proposed rule. Baltimore, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, and other cities across the country have focused revitalization efforts around abandoned waterfronts with tremendous success and now Jersey City, Trenton, Camden, Newark, and other New Jersey cities will be denied this opportunity.

“These rules are even worse for urban areas not only can they not get access to beaches, but the waterfront in our cities are going to be even harder for people to get access too,” *Tittel stated.* “These rules take the side of special interest over public interest.”

Under these rules existing commercial and industrial buildings, sewer plants and other large facilities are exempted. When any of these facilities block public access, there should be a way to require access or help pay for access at another place. When industrial or commercial sites are redeveloped, access should be required.

“These rules block public access for the people of New Jersey and would undermine our tourism industry,” *Tittel said*. “The more and better access we have, the more people will visit our waterways, waterfront communities, and beaches.”

These rules allow for bars on the beach in Atlantic City, but limit the right of day trippers to get access to the beaches or bays. They limit access in urban areas more than anywhere else by being used to wall off our waterfront from public. This not only undermines access, but hurts urban revitalization because having access to the waterways is important in urban revitalization.

“For the last 50 year we have left it up to the towns to provide access for New Jersey citizens and they have failed miserably. These rules go back to those days where the towns can stop the public from accessing its beaches and waterways,” *said Tittel*

Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator
New Jersey Sierra Club
145 W. Hanover Street
Trenton, NJ 08618
Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator
New Jersey Sierra Club
145 W. Hanover Street
Trenton, NJ 08618
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Received on 2012-03-19 13:51:14

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