A Jersey Shore town with a long history of trying to discourage outsiders from using its beaches postponed its latest attempt Wednesday after state officials threatened future beach replenishment and storm repair funding.
Deal's Board of Commissioners postponed an ordinance that would have restricted parking on some streets closest to the beach to residents during summer weekends.
Paul Fernicola, the borough's attorney, said the commission postponed action on the measure after determining it ran afoul of an executive order Gov. Phil Murphy issued in May 2020 that reopened beaches amid the coronavirus outbreak.
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That order included a provision that municipalities not impose any measures that discriminate against people based on where they live.
Late last week, the acting commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection wrote to Deal officials warning them the proposed parking ordinance directly violates an agreement Deal signed with the state and federal governments in 2018 to pay for beach replenishment work.
Shawn LaTourette wrote that the ordinance posed “inequitable restrictions to public beach access.”
He noted that the 2018 agreement between Deal and the state and federal governments requires that “the municipality shall provide and maintain all existing public access and public parking.”
LaTourette warned that if Deal adopted the ordinance, regular beach replenishment and emergency storm repair funding for beaches would be jeopardized.
He also noted that Deal is seeking state and federal money to repair storm water drainage issues at one street end, even as it risked violating the terms of its agreement with those entities.
Fernicola said Deal officials had not received the letter, dated May 27, as of Wednesday morning.
John Weber, an official with the Surfrider Foundation and a council member in nearby Bradley Beach, called on Deal to permanently withdraw the ordinance, as did Patty Cronheim of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.
Deal has tried several times to restrict parking near the beach, at one point considering requiring a $100 parking permit before abandoning that idea.
It also is being sued by the American Littoral Society for vacating a street end near the beach and selling the property, which has long been used as an access point for surfers and others, to an adjacent homeowner.
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