LONGPORT – After several years of wrangling with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, the borough is ready to move to the next step – getting a general permit for beach maintenance.
A requirement for acceptance of the borough’s proposed Beach Maintenance Plan, which is ready to be filed with the DEP, was the approval of a 110-page document prepared by former borough engineer Richard Carter, who retired in December but agreed to follow through on six outstanding projects.
On Tuesday, the DEP approved the Public Access Plan, which ensures the public has full access to the beach in perpetuity according to the Public Trust Doctrine, and posted it on the DEP website at https://www.nj.gov/dep/cmp/access/mpaplanapproved.htm
The Public Trust Doctrine states that access to bodies of water, including bays, rivers and oceans must be open to everyone, including beachgoers, fishers, surfers and the general public. The municipality is required to comply with all federal and state regulations in maintaining open access on publicly owned land. It does not affect private waterfront property owners.
A history of the Public Trust Doctrine, which dates back to 500 A.D., is available here: https://www.nj.gov/dep/cmp/access/njparightslegal.htm
In April 2020, the borough approved a deed of dedication granting an easement over all 49 of Longport’s publicly owned beachfront street-ends and bayside bulkheads.
At their meeting Wednesday, Feb. 17, the Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to incorporate the Public Access Plan into the borough’s Master Plan.
Borough Administrator A. Scott Porter informed the board that the borough’s Beach Maintenance Plan is ready to be submitted to the state for approval along with a $1,000 application fee.
“It will take about three months for the plan to be approved,” Solicitor Michael Affanato said.
In the meantime, the borough will apply for a temporary beach maintenance permit, which it has done for the last three years, to allow the Public Works Department to maintain the beach and get things ready for the summer crowd.
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