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DEP To Hold Public Hearings on Beach Access

Long Branch:  The Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing in Long Branch on proposed amendments to the Public Access rule. The proposed amendments would enhance public access to New Jersey’s beaches, bays and waterways.

The public hearing is this Wednesday, April 18th and will begin at 6pm in the Long Branch council chambers, 344 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ 07740.

Wednesday’s hearing will focus only on amendments to the Public Access rule that the DEP proposed earlier this year in response to public comments on the initial Public Access rule proposal. The proposed amendments include:

  • Provide enhanced public access for recreational fishermen by ensuring that municipal public access plans include defined and guaranteed points of access for day and night fishing;
  • Provide greater transparency and public involvement in development of municipal public access plans by ensuring that proposed access plans are posted on the DEP website and that the public has an opportunity to comment on them;
  • Do not require marinas to expand access when improving existing facilities, but development on adjacent sites would require marina owners to provide public access plans;
  • Mandate public access to and along the main route of the Hudson Waterfront Walkway and adjacent piers on a 24-hour basis except in very limited circumstances, and requires conformance to existing Hudson Walkway design guidelines and standards.

The Public Access Rule will improve and enhance public access to New Jersey’s beaches, bays and waterways through plans to be developed and implemented by municipalities and ultimately approved by the DEP. Specifically, the rule will:

  • Require new commercial, residential and industrial development to provide public access or pay into a fund created by a municipality with an approved access plan;
  • Encourage municipalities to work with the Department to develop town-specific municipal public access plans;
  • Expand the definition of public access to include certain recreational facilities under the definition of amusement pier, thereby opening up opportunities for rehabilitation of piers;
  • Maintain all existing public access along the shore and waterfronts;
  • Enable the DEP to rank municipalities without approved access plans lower for shore protection funding projects.

For a copy of the DEP news release announcing the amendments, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2012/12_0028.htm

To read the proposed rule amendments visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/proposals/20120319a.pdf

For a fact sheet, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/docs/20110516pafactsheet.pdf

To assist the public, the DEP has launched a Web site http://www.state.nj.us/dep/cmp/access/ that has a wealth of information about public access points, including public restroom and parking facilities, amenities such as restaurants, boat and kayak launches, marinas, water quality, handicapped facilities, and places to fish. This guide will enable people to choose the ideal location for them to enjoy New Jersey’s coastal and other tidal waters.

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