TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator John H. Adler which would protect beachfront property owners’ rights in regards to public shore replenishment projects was introduced in the Senate last week.
“Residents along the Jersey Shore know firsthand what a serious storm can do to erode the beach,” said Senator Adler, D-Cherry Hill. “However, many of these homeowners are rightfully concerned about giving government a lifetime pass to use their property for beach replenishment projects. There needs to be a better balance between the public interest and private citizens’ rights in beach replenishment projects.”
The bill, S-1904, would change Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shore protection rules regarding the issuance of government easements for private property in beach replenishment projects. Under the current rules, the DEP can issue an easement into perpetuity to use privately-owned beachfront property and sand dunes for federal and State replenishment projects, under the rationale that the department needs access to private property to ensure public safety. However, Senator Adler noted that most property owners would be willing to work with State regulators to protect public safety without easements, which drive down property value and establish a level of uncertainty for future public use.
“Beachfront homeowners are probably the biggest stakeholders in the safety of our State’s shoreline,” said Senator Adler. “Obviously, New Jersey needs to maintain our beaches as a natural buffer to off-shore storms and a public asset for recreation. We need to proceed with beach replenishment though in a way where environmental regulators aren’t acting like bullies.”
Senator Adler added that the motivation for his bill comes from concerns voiced to him by homeowners on Long Beach Island, who have dealt with the easement issue for decades.
“Beach replenishment is important, but we have to do it with as little intrusion as possible into the lives of local homeowners,” said Senator Adler. “Homeowners have rights too, and we need to find a way to honor those rights while protecting and preserving our shoreline.”
The bill is pending consideration before the Senate Environment Committee.