View Full Version : More access lost to NJ general public

09-26-2008, 06:17 PM
Even though I think Tittel is a :kooky:, this is one time I have to agree with his position.

Assembly bill spotlights waterfront access issue

Sponsor says his intent is to bolster security
Friday, September 26, 2008 BY TOM HESTER
Star-Ledger Staff

Public access to waterfront land touched by high tide -- the seashore, rivers and tidelands -- is the centerpiece of legislation overwhelmingly approved by the Assembly yesterday.
Assemblyman Matthew Milam (D-Cape May), a prime sponsor, maintained the proposal is designed to enhance security at waterfront areas near ports, military bases, industrial and energy plants and transportation facilities. He conceded it would eliminate a new state mandate that the operators of such sites that do not offer public access must pay the local government to provide it elsewhere.

Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club of New Jersey, which opposes the measure, criticized it as an effort by Milam and Assemblyman Nelson Albano (D-Cape May) to deny the public waterfront access and allow industry and business to escape an obligation to provide it. Tittel said the U.S. Coast Guard has set off-limits zones for the public at New Jersey waterfront sites considered security risks.
The bill (A2954) was approved by a vote of 76 to 1 and sent to the Senate, where Milam predicted it would also pass.
"Allowing the public to roam around near military facilities, energy plants and ports raises grave public safety concern," Milam said. "We cannot allow residents and visitors to put themselves or others in danger."
In December, the Department of Environmental Protection adopted amendments to the coastal permit program that expanded public access to any waterfront land that can be covered by high tide. The amendments require that current and future industrial, commercial, energy, military and shipping waterfront property owners provide on-site, permanent and unobstructed public access. If access can't be provided, the property owner must provide funding for an off-site location.
"Restricting access makes sense not just from a national security standpoint, but from personal safety and business perspectives, as well," Milam said, noting the public now can walk the docks at yacht clubs, leaving expensive boats open to theft or vandalism.
"To allow this legislation to move forward would be to deny our urban communities the right that others living along the shoreline have -- the ability to access the water," Tittel said. "No one is suggesting that a kayak launch site be installed at the Chevron site on the Arthur Kill, but few can visit Elizabeth's waterfront park and not understand the necessity and ability to provide for waterfront access along New Jersey's industrialized coast."