A Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of the state, ordering a beach club in Sea Bright to provide public access to the beach in front of the club, Commissioner Bob Martin announced today.
Judge Thomas W. Cavanagh, presiding in the Chancery Division in Monmouth County, this week issued an order ruling that the public owns all the tidelands in front of the Sea Bright Beach Club and ordered the club to work with the DEP on developing a plan to accommodate public access, including plans for maintenance, lifeguard protection and signage.
“Access to our beaches is an important right for everyone,” Commissioner Martin said. “This ruling restores the right of all members of the public to enjoy significant areas of the beaches in Sea Bright, even if the beaches happen to be in front of a private beach club. The next step is to work out a public access plan with the Sea Bright Beach Club.”
The ruling resolves access to the last of nine beach clubs that were named in a lawsuit the state filed in 2006 over public access to Sea Bright’s beaches. The lawsuit argued that 1993 agreements limiting public access to a 15-foot-wide limited use corridor were contrary to law and public policy.
Earlier this year, the state reached a settlement agreement with six other private beach clubs. They were the Chapel Beach Club, the Surf Rider Beach Club, Driftwood Beach Club, Sands Beach Club, Water’s Edge Beach Club and Ship Ahoy Beach Club. Under that settlement, the borough of Sea Bright also agreed to provide additional public-access amenities.
Another club, the Trade Winds Beach Club, was sold for residential development and public access has been allowed to the beach there. Another club, Donovan’s Reef Beach Club, settled previously and now allows full public access.
The DEP continues to work on new, comprehensive rules that will implement a common-sense approach for providing public access to beaches and waterways. A key objective is allowing municipalities to develop plans that recognize local conditions and costs without compromising public access.
NJDEP Press release http://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2010/10_0066.htm