I believe a majority of Long Branch residents love our beaches. I also believe that a majority of residents would love to be able to use our beaches for free. Let the visitors pay for it, why should we have to? We live here year round. We pay taxes here. So why should we pay additional money to access our beaches? Let’s get the out of town visitors to pay for the cost to maintain our beaches!
Unfortunately, that would be discrimination. The law is very clear on the subject. Our courts strongly disfavor when any governmental entity favors one group over another. Since the 1970’s our courts have consistently said the Public Trust Doctrine prohibits this type of activity. The Public Trust Doctrine allows residents to use the beach and ocean waters to swim, fish, bath, and other recreational activities. This doctrine has consistently struck down regulations that favored residents over non-residents, regarding access and fees for use of the beach and its facilities. In 1972 in Borough of Neptune City v. Borough of AvonbytheSea, 61 N.J. 296 (1972), the New Jersey Supreme Court struck down an ordinance that only allowed resident to purchase beach badges, which resulted in a higher fee for non-residents. In 1978 that same court in Van Ness v. Borough of Deal, 78 N.J. 174 (1978), analyzing a Deal ordinance found a municipality could not set aside part of a public beach for use by residents only. In Slocum v. Borough of Belmar, 238 N.J.Super. 179 (Law Div.1989) the trial court adopted the reasoning of Van Ness and Neptune, invalidating Belmar’s beach fees that discriminated against non-residents. These three cases clearly set forth that a municipality can no more favor a group based on residency than it can on the basis of race, sex, nationality, relegation, gender, or any other protected ground.
So if Long Branch can’t discrimination between residents and non-residents, what can it do? It could make beach access free for everyone. I believe are taxes are too high as it is. But, if Long Branch doesn’t charge for beach access, who will pay for the lifeguards, police, and maintenance of the facilities on the beach? Who will pay to rebuild the boardwalk? Until we come with a state wide plan to lower taxes, I wouldn’t want to lose those services. The fees aren’t unreasonable. My kids and I love the beach. We miss the boardwalk. We are willing to pay a reasonable cost for its use.
Tell us what you think? Better yet, tell your candidates what you think. For those Long Branch residents that don’t konw on May 13, 2014 you are choosing between Mayor Adam Schneider and Avery Grant.