N.J. Marina Owners Worry 24-Hour Beach Access Would Hike Insurance

New Jersey marina operators are lobbying against proposed beach access rules that they fear would open their facilities at all hours to anyone.

The new rules governing public access to the waterfront were introduced last November by Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s administration, with the aim of increasing areas where the public can get to state waters and shores.

But the marina industry is worried that the rules would increase their insurance costs, force them to allow access to all areas of their marinas, and infringe on their customers’ privacy.

“We’re not opposed to public access, but marinas are very unique,” Melissa Danko, executive director of the New Jersey Marina Trades Association told the Asbury Park Press for Saturday’s newspapers.

Marina owners said they fear that they would have to comply with a rule requiring 24-hour access on some river walks, something that they say would increase their security risk and would lead to some guests sleeping on their boats.

One marina operator, Spencer Hondros of Ocean Township, said marina operators would be required to conform to the new public access rules when they make improvements to their property. So “you’ll see a lot of dilapidated marinas,” in the future, as people would be reluctant to make changes, Hondros said.

Officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection differ with marina operators over the interpretation of the rules and their effect on marinas.

For example, while marina operators say a 10-foot-wide public access easement would be required for all their facilities, the DEP’s coastal program manager, Ruth Ehinger, said those requirements are only for specific regions such as the Hudson River front.

The proposed rule changes require public access points at least every quarter-mile, on average, when shore protection and beach rebuilding projects receive state funding.

They also would require public restroom facilities and public parking during the beach season in municipalities that get state funding for a shore protection or beach nourishment project.

The rules still must be formally adopted by the state Department of Environmental Protection before going into effect.


Information from: Asbury Park Press, http://www.app.com