Search Site
Menu
NJ Appellate Court Decides Beach Access Case in Sea Bright, NJ

On September 28, 2012, the Appellate Division rendered a decision in Chiesa v. D. Lobi Enterprises, Inc., relying extensively upon the seminal 2005 beach access case, Raleigh Avenue Beach Ass’n v. Atlantis Beach Club, Inc., 185 N.J. 40 (2005), argued by Lieberman Blecher & Sinkevich’s own Stuart Lieberman. Raleigh Avenue Beach Ass’n held that upland sand beach owned by a private club is required to be made available to the public under the public trust doctrine.

In 1993, in anticipation of a major beach replenishment project to restore rapidly eroding sand beaches along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline, the Sea Bright Beach Club granted a temporary construction easement to the State of New Jersey to enter its property “to pump, place, transport and spread sand beach fill” on its property. The Club also granted “a continuing easement for the purpose of conducting periodic beach nourishment” during the projected life of the project, and “a perpetual easement for a right of limited public access” limited to pedestrian right of transit and fishing, the later activity subject to reasonable restrictions by the Club.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Raleigh Avenue Beach Ass’n, the State of New Jersey filed a complaint against nine beach clubs, including the Sea Bright Beach Club and the Borough of Sea Bright, seeking reformation of the 1993 Agreements. Following extensive mediation, all defendants but the Sea Bright Beach Club settled. Following cross-motions for summary judgment, the Trial Court found that most of the Club’s ocean frontage was ungranted State tidelands but denied summary judgment on the issue of remedy. The Trial Court ultimately granted summary judgment concluding that 1993 Agreement was void.

Arguing that the State was equitably estopped from seeking reformation of the 1993 Agreement, the Club contended before the Appellate Division that the Trial Court judgment should be reversed. The Appellate Division found that the centerpiece of the analysis is the public trust doctrine, which provides “that all of the land covered by tidal water belongs to the [State] held in trust for the property to use.” Raleigh Avenue Beach Ass’n, 185 N.J. at 51-52. In Matthews v. Bay Head Improvement Ass’n, 95 N.J. 306, 323-24, cert. denied, 469 U.S. 821 (1984), the Court noted that the right to swim below the mean high water mark may be frustrated without a right to cross the upland dry beach. In applying this principle to the public claim of access to the privately-owned Atlantis Beach in Raleigh Avenue Beach Ass’n, the Supreme Court found that the general public had a right to use upland dry sand of the private beach club pursuant to the public trust doctrine.

Utilizing this reasoning, the Appellate Division in this matter held that the provision granting only limited public access to the dry upland beach area controlled by the Club is contrary to public interest and unenforceable. The matter was ultimately remanded for further proceedings to address the appropriate remedy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Attorneys

Recent Twitter Posts

  • New Jersey Legislature Passes National Precedent Setting Environmental Justice Bill. https://t.co/P8ybU2UrtD
    1 month ago
  • New Jersey files 12 new environmental justice lawsuits. https://t.co/jYo1yCwTOa
    1 month ago
  • Plans Underway for Building Offshore Wind Farms Along the New Jersey Coast. https://t.co/S4CDX5DMS0
    2 months ago
  • Energy companies cancel construction of Atlantic Coast Pipeline. https://t.co/aDYHr4nhal
    3 months ago

Recent Blog Posts

Lead Exposure and Frivolous Litigation

Owners of older residential properties are likely familiar with the legal requirement to provide warnings concerning the existence of lead. Lead exposure, particularly amongst children, can result in severe, even
Read More
Lead Exposure and Frivolous Litigation

New Jersey Supreme Court rules the PLA does not preempt CFA claims by consumers

Now more than ever, consumer protection is important. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we see new products on our shelves, promising safe disinfection for hands and surfaces as
Read More
New Jersey Supreme Court rules the PLA does not preempt CFA claims by consumers

Notices and Appellate Review of a CAFRA Permit

In JSTAR, LLC v. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, et al., Docket No. A-1745-18T1, the Appellate Division in an unpublished decision revisited the issues of notice and a review
Read More
Notices and Appellate Review of a CAFRA Permit

Preemption Isn’t Always the Answer: The Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County Law Division highlights the necessary harmony between State legislation and municipal land use ordinances

On November 20, 2019, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County Law Division, issued an opinion in the matter captioned Lakeview Memorial Park Association v. Burlington County Construction Board
Read More
Preemption Isn’t Always the Answer: The Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County Law Division highlights the necessary harmony between State legislation and municipal land use ordinances

In the media

  • Gulf Coast Town Center facing foreclosure

    Naples Daily News, September 16, 2015

    Wells Fargo filed a lawsuit Sept. 8 against an affiliate of CBL & Associates, the owners of the decadeold, 1.2 million-square-foot mall in south Fort Myers for a $190.9 million unpaid loan. The center has 94 stores on 204 acres, with such anchors as Super Target, Belk, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marshalls and Costco...

    Read More
  • Town liable for private company's leaking underground tanks, court rules

    NJ.com Jul 26, 2017

    CRANFORD -- A couple that owned a businesses in town and became sick from leaking underground tanks owned by an adjacent business can sue the township for damages because the tanks were partially ...

    Read More
  • Dark Waters: How a Class Action Catapulted NJ to Forefront of 'Forever Chemicals' Battle

    NJ Law Journal Jan 09, 2020

    As property owners become increasingly aware of PFAS contamination, and as individuals exposed to PFAS learn of the health risks associated with exposure, liability will likely affect entire supply chains.

    Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
Contact Our Firm

Quick Contact Form