Proposed N.J. beach
access rules are debated in Galloway
by the Associated Press - May 17, 2011
— The state's proposed new beach access regulations took a beating
for the second week in a row today, with residents speaking out at a
public hearing in southern New Jersey against a plan that would give
individual towns a much greater say in deciding how much access is
appropriate for them.
"This document says, 'Trust me: I know what's
best for you,'" said Tom Siciliano, a fisherman from Little Egg
Harbor Township. "I don't trust government."
"There used to be a governor that would say,
'Come to the Jersey shore,'" added Paul Harris, an official with the
New Jersey Beach Buggy Association. "This was to promote tourism, to
get people to come to the beach. What do you say now: 'Come to the
Jersey shore, but you'll have limited access and parking?' "
The regulations rely more on cooperation from
towns rather than threats from state regulators. They let towns
decide for themselves what level of public access is appropriate,
subject to state approval.
The agency will decide whether to finalize the
rules after the public comment period ends next month.
Ralph Coscia, co-president of Citizens Right
To Access Beaches, referred to previous praise of New Jersey's
current beach access levels by Department of Environmental
"When DEP officials describe New Jersey's
public access as 'wonderful' and 'magnificent,' it is cause for
concern," he said. "When a family has to drive around for half an
hour looking for a parking space in a community where they are
legally allowed to go, it is hardly 'wonderful' or 'magnificent.'
These events occur on a daily basis during the summer season."
Tim Dillingham, executive director of the
American Littoral Society, a coastal advocacy group, said New
Jersey's shore towns have shown repeatedly that they will side with
oceanfront homeowners against public access.
"The idea that towns should be given the
authority to manage public access given their history of having
police officers chase people off beaches or limit parking is not the
way New Jersey should be protecting access to the beach, which
belongs to the public," he said. "They don't belong to the
oceanfront homeowners or to the towns. They belong to the entire
The state rewrote its beach access rules
earlier this year, saying its hand was forced by a 2008 appeals
court ruling that struck down more specific rules requiring public
access points every quarter-mile, parking and restrooms near
Ray Cantor, a top aide to DEP Commissioner
Robert Martin, said the new rules aim to provide for local
flexibility while still maintaining "better access in more
"There is a better way to provide access to
our coastal areas and inland waterways," he said. "We are not doing
away with any access points that exist now. We are not abdicating
The court ruling came in a lawsuit brought by
the south Jersey beach town of Avalon that claimed the state
overstepped its bounds by requiring too much public access and
unreasonable requirements such as around-the-clock access to beaches
and marinas. The stricter set of regulations had been issued under
former DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson, now head of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency.
The court agreed and struck down the rules.
Martin said the state will now seek to have access points at
half-mile intervals, but that standard will not be set in stone.
Most of the gains in public access to New
Jersey's coastal and tidal waters have come after lengthy, costly
court battles against towns that used a variety of strategies to
keep all but outsiders off their sand.
In Mantoloking, beachgoers can park their cars
on most public streets for a maximum of two hours a day. In parts of
Long Beach Island like the Loveladies section of Long Beach
Township, many streets dead-end with private driveways with signs
warning "Private drive. No public beach access."
In Sea Bright, there's little, if any,
on-street parking along much of the sea wall taking up a good chunk
of the oceanfront. Bay Head for years legally restricted its beaches
to residents-only, until a court told it to stop. And in many
places, eating on the beach isn't allowed and it's impossible to
find a bathroom within walking distance.
Irene Kelly, a Lavallette resident, said her
Ocean County beach town recently limited parking in some places to
two hours. That, she said, makes it much more difficult for people
to come use the beach.
"You have to scramble to park your car; in
some places, it's five blocks away" from the ocean, she said. "It's
horrible and it should be stopped before the season starts."
The new rules ask — but don't require —
coastal towns to adopt a public access plan spelling out exactly
where the public can get to the beach. For towns that balk, the
state has several punishments it can mete out. One is cutting the
town off from open-space funding under the state Green Acres
program. Another is ranking that town lower on the state's funding
recommendation list for beach replenishment money. And a third is
denying the town permits for beach and dune maintenance.
The only ones to speak in favor of the rules
were elected officials in some beach towns that would be subject to
less stringent regulation.
Al Carusi, a councilman in the Cape May County
shore town of Stone Harbor, welcomed the proposed rules, saying they
would be friendlier than the stance previously taken by the DEP
regarding beach access requirements and burdens on municipalities.
"In the past, it was adversarial and
time-consuming," he said. "This is a win-win."
Andrew Bednarek, Avalon's borough
administrator, said the old rules his town overturned in court were
"unreasonable and impossible to comply with."
"I applaud the DEP for abandoning the
one-size-fits-all approach while respecting the requirement of
public access," he said.
Stone Harbor swears in new police chief
STONE HARBOR - Paul
Reynolds reached another career milestone Tuesday when he was
named the town's police chief, replacing now-retired Chief
Law-enforcement careers run in Reynolds'
Reynolds, one of six children, has three older
brothers and two nephews in the field, so it was only natural
Reynolds would have an interest in policing, too.
As a college student studying criminal justice
at Temple University, he heard about opportunities to serve as a
summer officer at the Jersey Shore and started his career in Stone
Harbor in the summer of 1985.
The following year he became a full-time
police officer and eventually won promotions to patrol sergeant in
1997, detective sergeant in 2003 and captain in December 2005.
"I'm excited. This is kind of like a goal when
you start out," Reynolds, 46, said prior to being sworn into office.
"The time has flown by."
Reynolds will now oversee the day-to-day
operations of the department, which has 16 full-time members
including himself. The department has one vacant position and a new
captain has just been named, so Reynolds said the department will
focus on getting its management team in order.
The department also hires about 12 seasonal
officers each summer.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity. I take the
position very seriously, but I don't take myself seriously,"
He was sworn into office during Tuesday
afternoon's Borough Council meeting and his brother, Lt. James
Reynolds of the SEPTA Transit Police, pinned the chief's badge on
his uniform. Another brother, Sgt. Edward Reynolds also of SEPTA
Transit Police, stood nearby along with Reynolds' wife, children and
"He's worked very hard all these years through
the chain of command," Councilwoman Joan Kramar told the large crowd
in Borough Hall as she voted in favor of Reynolds' appointment.
Reynolds said residents and visitors will
continue to receive the same level of service from the department.
The town has a small year-round population of
866 people, 2010 census data show, but those numbers swell to 22,528
people on a typical weekend in July and August, Cape May County
Department of Planning said.
Reynolds, who is originally from Delaware
County in Pennsylvania, has both a bachelor's degree from Richard
Stockton College and a master's degree in criminal justice from St.
Joseph's University. He is married with four children and lives in
According to the city, the chief's position
has a salary of $112,000 annually.
Also sworn into office Tuesday were Capt.
Daniel Mulraney, Patrol Sgt. Robert Walker and Patrol Officer Brent
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