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State of New Jersey-Department of Environmental Protection-Public Acess
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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Implementing Municipal Public Access Plans
Regulatory Tools

Source: NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Coastal Management Office, Public Access in New Jersey: the Public Trust Doctrine and Practical Steps to Enhance Public Access, by Robert Freudenberg, Trenton, NJ, 2006 (pdf)

IV. Opportunities for Providing Public Access

E. Regulatory Tools
There are a variety of regulatory tools that can be used to enhance public access within municipalities:

  1. Zoning Regulations
    Zoning regulations can enable local governments to decree that certain lands are appropriate only for certain types of development. Proper zoning of waterfront parcels is critical in the protection and enhancement of public access. Municipalities can amend zoning regulations to include criteria that protect water-dependent uses, including public access, through a coastal site plan review process. Municipalities can also create zoning districts that reserve coastal areas for water-dependent uses, like public access, or allow a mix of compatible water dependent and non-water dependent uses. Zoning that reserves areas for water-dependent uses can help keep privately owned but publicly used accessways, like marinas, from having prohibitive property taxes.

  2. Ordinances
    Municipalities have enforceable ordinances that regulate everything from development and land use to the sale of alcoholic beverages. Ordinances provide the opportunity to clearly define public access and to ensure that it is adequately provided and made as easy as possible. Examples of clauses that could be used to increase and improve public access to the coast include the following:
    • Require ample parking for the public in proximity to access points and for reasonable times
    • Preserve street ends as accessways
    • Provide ADA ramps at access points for handicapped citizens
    • Ensure that development does not block access
    • Identify and clearly mark access points with signs

  3. Permit Conditions
    Before the Division of Land Use Regulation issues a permit for development, they must refer to New Jersey’s Coastal Zone Management rules . Anyone granted a permit to develop is required to abide by certain permit conditions. These conditions can include requirements that promote public access and uphold public trust rights. Examples of such conditions include:
    • Securing conservation restrictions for perpendicular access across property
    • Requiring walkways along the shore
    • Limiting building size
    • Providing parking spaces
    • Requiring offsite public access

    Even when a permit is issued, the public rights to access and use tidal waterways and their shores are not relinquished.



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Last Updated: January 26, 2017