Doherty/Sweeney Introduce Bill to Require Free Access to Storm-Damaged Beaches Replenished with State & Federal Funds
Senator Michael J. Doherty (R-23) and Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-3) have introduced legislation that would require municipalities that accept state or federal aid to rebuild storm-damaged beaches to provide beach access and beach restroom facilities to the public free of charge.
“It is likely that state and federal taxpayers will provide hundreds of millions of dollars to repair and replenish New Jersey beaches that were washed away during Hurricane Sandy,” said Doherty. “Considering the massive public resources that will be directed at rebuilding many New Jersey beaches, it only seems fair to ensure that everyone have the opportunity to enjoy free access to the beaches they will support and help rebuild with their tax dollars.”
The legislation, S-2368, would apply to towns that accept grants or aid from the state or federal governments after November 2, 2012 for the purpose of replenishing storm-damaged beaches.
Under the legislation, municipalities that accept aid for rebuilding beaches would not be allowed to adopt or enforce ordinances requiring the collection of fees for beach badges or otherwise as a requirement of being allowed to use or access a beach. Furthermore, those municipalities would be required to provide free public restroom facilities to beachgoers between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.
“Where taxpayers are paying for beach restoration, they shouldn’t be taxed a second time just to walk on the sand,” said Sweeney. “As New Jerseyans, we are all in the recovery and rebuilding process together. That means we should all be able to enjoy the reopening of our state’s greatest natural resource together, too.”