Acting N.J. AG settles with beach clubs

Nick Rees Jan. 13, 2010, 5:23pm


TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - Six private beach clubs in Sea Bright, N.J., have entered into beach access-related settlements with acting New Jersey Attorney General Ricardo Solano Jr.

The agreements will expand the amount of beach open to the general public. Additionally, the six beach clubs have agreed to contribute to a fund for the construction of additional public-access amenities in the Borough of Sea Bright.

"These are important agreements for the people of New Jersey, and for anyone who wants to experience the beaches of Sea Bright," Solano Jr. said.

"As a result of these settlements, the public will be able to use and enjoy substantially more beach area. I appreciate the willingness of the beach clubs to work with our office to reach these settlements."

The settlement names Chapel Beach Club, Surf Rider Beach Club, Driftwood Beach Club, Sands Beach Club, Water's Edge Beach Club and the Ship Ahoy Beach Club. Three other beach clubs in Sea Bright that had been named in a 2006 lawsuit filed by the state were not included in the settlement. That lawsuit, filed in Sept. 2006 in New Jersey Superior Court, called for revision of an agreement signed by the state and the nine private clubs in 1993.

As part of the 1993 agreement, a 15-foot "limited use public corridor" was set aside in front of the clubs' beaches. The new settlement replaces that corridor with a "full public use" area made up of at least 50 percent of the beach up to a maximum of 150 feet. The new area will extend landward from the Annual Mean High Water Mark.

The beach clubs will, under the new agreements, retain exclusive use and control over the beach area landward of the public use areas.

As the width of the public-use areas is expected to vary from year to year as natural forces change the beach, it will be re-measured annually on June 15.

Five of the six clubs, as part of the settlement, will contribute $30,000 each to provide for construction of public-access improvements. The sixth club, Driftwood Beach Club, will contribute $20,000 and give the DEP a tract of oceanfront property in nearby Monmouth Beach.

The money from the settlements will be placed in a Sea Bright Public Access fund that will be managed by the state to be used to finance public access improvement projects.

Claims against the Borough of Sea Bright have also been resolved, with Sea Bright agreeing to spend $556,000 to provide additional public-access amenities within the borough related to providing public access to the beach.

Solano served as first deputy attorney general under Anne Milgram, who decided to resign as Chris Christie prepares to take over as governor. Christie has nominated Paula Dow as the next attorney general.

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