Beach access plan draws fire

February 25, 2008 3:36:06 PM PST
Lawsuits are flying left and right at the Jersey Shore over a controversial plan to give 24-hour access to beaches, docks and marinas.

New forthcoming federal requirements are tagged to beach replenishment projects.

Most New Jersey shore towns prohibit visitors from going onto the beach at night for safety reasons. Ventnor closes its beaches from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Cities such as Wildwood and Ocean City have similar restrictions.

However, proposed Department of Environmental Protection regulations would require that towns that apply for beach replenishment funds must provide 24-hour access to beaches and waterways.

Ventnor's last replenishment project was seven million dollars, and 90 percent of the money came from the federal or state government.

The proposed 24-hour access would not only apply to beaches, but also to private docks and marinas.

Officials are concerned that allowing such access could open the door to more crime, drownings or other problems.

The DEP says there is flexibility and the department will consider each towns circumstances.