On Wednesday, April 18th, the Department of Environmental Protection will hold public hearings in Avalon and Long Branch on proposed amendments to the Public Access rule.  The Public Access rule will enhance public access to New Jersey’s beaches, bays and waterways.

Wednesday’s hearings 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:   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. 

The first hearing will be at noon at the Avalon Court meeting room, 3100 Dune Drive, Avalon, NJ 08202. The second will begin at 6 p.m. in the Long Branch council chambers, 344 Broadway, Long Branch.