Assembly panel approves latest version of waterfront access bill

jersey shore dunes, new jersey environment

TOM JOHNSON / NJ SPOTLIGHT – New Jersey is moving closer to enshrining in state law the public-trust doctrine, a common-law principle that ensures natural resources such as tidal waters and waterfront areas are preserved for public use.

Dating back hundreds of years (1641) to English common law, the concept is based on the premise that the people’s ownership of tidal waters and adjacent shorelines is held in trust by the state, a concept long embraced by conservationists as guaranteeing public access to waterfront areas.

But its application is not so easy in New Jersey, where shoreline and waterfront areas are lined with oil refineries, luxury condominium complexes, power plants, urban redevelopments, and multimillion-dollar homes. In fact, litigation over past access rules led to a new bill to resolve the issue …

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