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Municipal Public Access Planning

Municipalities have the opportunity to develop public access plans that reflect their self-determined priorities for enhancing public access to tidal waters.  Municipal Public Access Plans comprehensively inventory a town’s current public access points and amenities, identify gaps in public access opportunities, and propose actions to address those needs while preserving existing access.  DEP planning professionals in the Office of Coastal and Land Use Planning are available to assist towns in this valuable planning effort.

Public Access Rule
The public rights of access to and use of the tidal waterways and their shores are based in the common law rule of the Public Trust Doctrine, first codified by the Roman Emperor Justinian around 500 AD as civil law. It establishes the public’s right to full use of the seashore. The current rule stems from this but has been modified by legal decisions and recent implementation policies.

Developing Municipal Public Access Plans
Municipalities have the opportunity to develop public access plans that reflect their self-determined priorities for enhancing public access to tidal waters.  These plans comprehensively inventory a community’s current public access points and amenities, identify gaps in public access opportunities, and propose actions to address those needs while preserving existing access.  DEP planning professionals in the Office of Coastal and Land Use Planning are available to assist towns in this valuable planning effort.

Municipal Public Access Plans
Within New Jersey, 231 municipalities have been determined to be eligible to develop and implement municipal public access plans. In an ongoing process, draft plans and approved plans are posted for public information and review.

Public Comment Process
Public notification, engagement and comment are important aspects of public access planning. The rules provide for the notification of the public and the receipt of their comments.


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Last Updated: November 2, 2017