ASSEMBLY, No. 2528

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

209th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 1, 2000

 

 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman NEIL M. COHEN

District 20 (Union)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

    Prohibits charging of municipal, county or State beach fees; establishes fund for beach maintenance; requires annual appropriation of $20,000,000 from realty transfer fees into fund; restricts other appropriations contingent on such funding.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

    As introduced.

 


An Act concerning beach access and use fees, reimbursement to municipalities for beach maintenance costs and use of the realty transfer fee therefor, and amending and supplementing various sections of statutory law.

 

    Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

    1. (New section) As used in this act:

    "Coastal beach" means any gently sloping area of sand or other unconsolidated material, found on tidal shorelines, including ocean and bay shorelines that extend landward from the mean high water line to either the seaward or bayward foot of dunes, whichever is closest to the bay, inlet or ocean waters, or to a man-made feature generally parallel to the ocean, inlet, or bay waters such as a retaining structure, seawall, bulkhead, road or boardwalk, except that the sandy areas that extend fully under and landward of an elevated boardwalk shall be considered part of coastal beach areas. The term "coastal beach" shall not include any beaches on lakes, rivers or their tributaries;

    "Person" means any individual and shall not include corporations, governmental units or agencies, or organizations; and

    "Public coastal beach" means any coastal beach owned by a municipality, a county or the State.

 

    2. (New section) Notwithstanding the provisions of any law, or any rules or regulations adopted pursuant thereto, to the contrary, no municipality or county, or the State, or any agency thereof, shall charge a person a fee for access to or use of a public coastal beach or for the use of the bathing and recreational facilities pertaining thereto.

 

    3. (New section) The Department of Environmental Protection, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), may adopt any rules or regulations necessary for the management of lands owned by the State that are affected by this act.

 

    4. (New section) No provision of this act shall be construed to restrict the State from charging fees for access to State parks that do not include a public coastal beach, or for parking or other services provided at State parks that do include a public coastal beach. No provision of this act shall be construed to restrict a municipality or a county from charging fees for parking or other services provided at or near public coastal beaches.

    5. (New section) a. The "Free Public Beach Fund" (hereinafter referred to as "the fund") is established in the Department of Community Affairs as a separate non-lapsing fund to be administered by the Commissioner of Community Affairs. The moneys deposited in the fund shall be used exclusively for the reimbursement of public beach maintenance costs to municipalities as provided in this act.

    b. The Department of Community Affairs, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1, et seq.), shall adopt rules and regulations establishing the procedures for reimbursement of reasonable and actual public beach maintenance costs incurred directly by municipalities, including, but not limited to, the manner in which the municipality is to request reimbursement and the documentation required as proof of the expenditure. Upon adoption of the rules and regulations required by this subsection, the department, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, shall notify in writing each municipality in which there is located a public beach that is not a State park.

    c. Notwithstanding subsections a. or b. of this section, no provision of this act shall be construed to affect State parks containing beaches or permit a municipality to be reimbursed for the maintenance of beaches within the municipality that are private or part of a State park.

 

    6. Section 1 of P.L.1955, c.49 (C.40:61-22.20) is amended to read as follows:

    1. The governing body of any municipality bordering on the Atlantic Ocean, tidal water bays or rivers which owns or shall acquire, by any deed of dedication or otherwise, lands bordering on the ocean, tidal water bays or rivers, or easement rights therein, for a place of resort for public health and recreation and for other public purposes shall have [the exclusive] control, government and care thereof and of any boardwalk, bathing and recreational facilities, safeguards and equipment, now or hereafter constructed or provided thereon, and may, by ordinance, make and enforce rules and regulations for the government and policing of such lands, boardwalk, bathing facilities, safeguards and equipment; provided, that such power of control, government, care and policing shall not be construed in any manner to exclude or interfere with the operation of any State law or authority with respect to such lands, property and facilities. [Any such municipality may, in order to provide funds to improve, maintain and police the same and to protect the same from erosion, encroachment and damage by sea or otherwise, and to provide facilities and safeguards for public bathing and recreation, including the employment of lifeguards, by ordinance, make and enforce rules and regulations for the government, use, maintenance and policing thereof and provide for the charging and collecting of reasonable fees for the registration of persons using said lands and bathing facilities, for access to the beach and bathing and recreational grounds so provided and for the use of the bathing and recreational facilities, but no such fees shall be charged or collected from children under the age of 12 years; and the municipality may by ordinance provide that no fees, or reduced fees, shall be charged to persons 65 or more years of age and to persons who meet the disability criteria for disability benefits under Title II of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C.§401 et seq.).] No such municipality may charge or collect fees for the registration of persons using the lands and bathing facilities, for access to the beach and bathing and recreational grounds or for the use of the bathing and recreational facilities, except as provided pursuant to P.L. , c. (C. )(now before the Legislature as this bill).

(cf: P.L.1992,c.195, s.1.)

 

    7. Section 2 of P.L.1992, c.148 (C.46:15-10.2) is amended to read as follows:

    2. a. The annual appropriations act for each State fiscal year shall, without other conditions, limitations or restrictions on the following:

    (1) credit amounts paid to the State Treasurer, if any, in payment of fees collected pursuant to section 3 of P.L.1968, c.49 (C.46:15-7), to the "Free Public Beach Fund" established pursuant to section 5 of P.L. , c. (C. )(now pending before the Legislature as this bill), to the "Shore Protection Fund" created pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1992, c.148 (C.13:19-16.1), and the Neighborhood Preservation Nonlapsing Revolving Fund established pursuant to section 20 of P.L.1985, c.222 (C.52:27D-320), pursuant to the requirements of section 4 of P.L.1968, c.49 (C.46:15-8);

    (2) appropriate the balance of the "Shore Protection Fund" created pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1992, c.148 (C.13:19-16.1), for the purposes of that fund; [and]

    (3) appropriate the balance of the Neighborhood Preservation Nonlapsing Revolving Fund established pursuant to section 20 of P.L.1985, c.222 (C.52:27D-320), for the purposes of that fund[.] and;

    (4) appropriate the balance of the "Free Public Beach Fund" established pursuant to section 5 of P.L. , c. (C. )(now pending before the Legislature as this bill), for the purposes of that fund.

    b. If the requirements of subsection a. of this section are not met on the effective date of an annual appropriations act for the State fiscal year, or if an amendment or supplement to an annual appropriations act for the State fiscal year should violate any of the requirements of subsection a. of this section, the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting in the Department of the Treasury shall, not later than five days after the enactment of the annual appropriations act, or an amendment or supplement thereto, that violates any of the requirements of subsection a. of this section, certify to the Director of the Division of Taxation that the requirements of subsection a. of this section have not been met.

(cf: P.L.1992,c.148,s.2.)

 

    8. Section 4 of P.L.1968, c.49 (C.46:15-8) is amended to read as follows:

    4. The proceeds of the fees collected by the county recording officer, as authorized by this act, shall be accounted for and remitted to the county treasurer. An amount equal to 28.6% of the proceeds from the first $1.75 for each $500.00 of consideration or fractional part thereof recited in the deed so collected shall be retained by the county treasurer for the use of the county and the balance shall be paid to the State Treasurer for the use of the State; provided however, that on and after the tenth day following a certification by the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting in the Department of the Treasury pursuant to subsection b. of section 2 of P.L.1992, c.148 (C.46:15-10.2), 100.0% of the proceeds from the first $0.50 for each $500.00 of consideration or fractional part thereof recited in the deed so collected shall be retained by the county treasurer for the use of the county and no amount shall be paid to the State Treasurer for the use of the State. Payments shall be made to the State Treasurer on the tenth day of each month following the month of collection. Amounts, not in excess of $20,000,000, paid during the State fiscal year to the State Treasurer from the payment of fees collected by the county recording officer other than the additional fee of $0.75 for each $500.00 of consideration or fractional part thereof recited in the deed in excess of $150,000.00 shall be credited to the "Free Public Beach Fund" established pursuant to section 5 of P.L. , c. (C. )(now pending before the Legislature as this bill). Amounts, not in excess of $25,000,000, paid during the State fiscal year to the State Treasurer from the payment of fees collected by the county recording officer other than the additional fee of $0.75 for each $500.00 of consideration or fractional part thereof recited in the deed in excess of $150,000.00 shall be credited to the "Shore Protection Fund" created pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1992, c.148 (C.13:19-16.1), in the manner established under that section. All amounts paid to the State Treasurer in payment of the additional fee of $0.75 for each $500.00 of consideration or fractional part thereof recited in the deed in excess of $150,000.00 shall be credited to the Neighborhood Preservation Nonlapsing Revolving Fund established pursuant to P.L.1985, c.222 (C.52:27D-301 et al.), in the manner established under section 20 thereof (C.52:27D-320).

(cf: P.L.1999, c.71, s.1)

 

    9. This act shall take effect immediately.


STATEMENT

 

    This bill prohibits any municipality or county, or the State, from charging a person a fee for access to or use of a public coastal beach and provides funding for the beach maintenance costs paid by these fees by establishing a "Free Public Beach Fund." Funding of the beach maintenance costs are guaranteed by an annual appropriation of $20,000,000 from realty transfer fees and providing the "Free Public Beach Fund" with the same protections as the "Shore Protection Fund" if the "Free Public Beach Fund" is not funded. If credits and appropriations are not made to the "Free Public Beach Fund," "Shore Protection Fund," or the "Neighborhood Preservation Nonlapsing Revolving Fund," no realty transfer fee may be imposed. Current law protects funding to the "Shore Protection Fund" and the "Neighborhood Preservation Nonlapsing Revolving Fund" in this manner. The bill also provides a $10,000,000 increase to the "Shore Protection Fund" appropriation.

    Municipal, county and State agencies are also prohibited from charging such beach access and use fees. The bill defines a public coastal beach as a coastal beach owned by a municipality or county or the State. Beaches on lakes, rivers and their tributaries are specifically excluded. The bill defines "person" as any individual and does not include corporations, governmental units or agencies, or organizations. The bill authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt any rules or regulations necessary for the management of lands owned by the State affected by this bill and allows fees to be charged by a municipality, a county or the State for parking or other services provided at or near public coastal beaches.

    Finally, the bill authorizes the Department of Community Affairs to administer the "Free Public Beach Fund," review municipal requests for reimbursement of beach maintenance costs and reimburse the municipalities for reasonable costs.

    This bill seeks to provide State residents with free access to one of the State's most beautiful and precious resources, the New Jersey Shore. California, a state known for its beaches and beautiful coast line, has had a long tradition of free access to its beaches and prohibits charging any walk-on fees on any beach.