Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Saturday, January 19, 2008:
An involved email from a site regular:
I haven't seen any reference to it in your blogs (maybe I missed it), but I'm sure you are aware of the recent proposed DEP regs to require public access to the bay -- 24 hrs/day -- at all marinas. On the surface, it sounds great, but please read today's AC Press article on the front page of the Local section.
One person in the article compares the DEP's increasing steam-rolling of local and personal property rights to the Nazi round-up of various groups of people: Other groups often looked the other way at the time because they were NOT targeted and didn't want to draw attention; but then when THEY finally were targeted, there was no one else left around to help them. Not as extreme a comparison as some might think.
For those who thought (and still think) the CAFRA regulations are overzealous, and who felt the DEP's beach replenishment documents were overly one-sided, this is an even clearer example of the NJ DEP's Gestapo tactics. (Hey, you are an expert on the whole Holgate access situation, right? Any similar chords there?)
I'm not a marina owner, but I am a property owner on LBI and a small business person. And a fisherman. I also consider myself a conservationist and someone who cares about our environment. What I don't understand is that the DEP wants ocean access every 1/4 mile, yet on the bay most of LBI has water access ever block -- at the paved street ends. So why bother marinas??
Most marinas aren't making big money these days. Running ANY small business in NJ is tough enough with the tax situation, the insurance costs, and all the other regs out of Trenton loaded onto the back of the little guy trying to operate a business here. (Heck, just LIVING in NJ is tough enough for the same reasons!)
Forcing a marina to provide 24 hr, 7 day/wk access to the water is not only expensive ot the owner (risk of liability, insurance, loss of use of the public access property, etc) and potentially disruptive to neighbors and boat owners in slips ("let's party down by the water!"), it is also dangerous to that public: we both know the physical condition of a lot of marinas is not up to normal public safety standards. That will be the next requirement, I'm sure -- more expense to the owner...who by the way will have no choice but to pass these costs on to customers.
If people don't start to make a stand and get these Trenton beauracrats reined in, they will continue and get worse. In that same article, the DEP rep seems to be proud that they are being so aggressive in using their power, and basically says they will continue to be.
Unfortunately, it seems no one really has oversight on them. Since they control the permit process on the waterfront at the shore (maybe it will also be the non-waterfront soon!), they have us by the b***s. They know it, they like it, and they are going to continue to squeeze...because they CAN. Unless they are reined in.
I won't pretend to be an expert on this whole topic, and shame on me for missing yesterday's public meeting on the marina regs. But this is way over the edge. And it is more than just this set of regs. Maybe it's time for all the NJ shore communities to consider banding together to protect their local interests and ensure some "reasonable-ness" to protecting our beaches and bays. Maybe they should join together formally in a lawsuit (some of that is starting), or at least as a joint lobby or as an association (like a merchants' association).
If you are interested, I will be getting some more info on this from a local marina owner in the next few days -- will be happy to pass it on to you or to one of your reporters.
In the meantime, I hope you'll get some press about this out there on your blog for all the sports people who read it. At this point, I think we have to send letters and make calls on the marina regs. Or we can just wait until their cross-hairs inevitably target us more directly.