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’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

  • Scientist finds rare plant last seen in NJ 100 years ago. https://t.co/03jJRVd3cc
    5 days ago
  • NJ is the first state to regulate PFNAs in drinking water. https://t.co/huLEDnc444
    5 days ago
  • Nation's oldest nuclear power plant to shut down permanently Monday. https://t.co/LHSjcNvZVW
    6 days ago
  • Solar farm set to cover Hopatcong dump in 2019. https://t.co/TcmfmlaJGy
    7 days ago

Recent Blog Posts

NJ Supreme Court Sees Standing in Tax Lienholders to Challenge Municipal Approval

On August 2, 2018, New Jersey’s Supreme Court held that a holder of a municipal tax lien may have standing to challenge a local planning board’s approval for a neighboring
Read More
NJ Supreme Court Sees Standing in Tax Lienholders to Challenge Municipal Approval

The Downside to Higher Ground: Appellate Division affirms finding of a townhome owner’s negligence and responsibility for water damage to a below unit caused by a prolonged leaking washing machine hose

On August 1, 2018, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division ruled in favor of plaintiff in the matter captioned Joseph S. D’Elia v. Joyce Campisi and Liberty Mutual
Read More
The Downside to Higher Ground: Appellate Division affirms finding of a townhome owner’s negligence and responsibility for water damage to a below unit caused by a prolonged leaking washing machine hose

United States Supreme Court Tackles Key Clean Water Act Judicial Review Issue

National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense, et al. 583 U.S. ____ (2018) Decided January 22, 2018 Since the passing of the Clean Water Act in 1972, the definition of “the waters
Read More
United States Supreme Court Tackles Key Clean Water Act Judicial Review Issue

New Jersey Voters to Decide Important State Constitutional Amendment concerning the Environment

On Tuesday, November 7, 2017, New Jersey voters will be asked to decide on a state constitutional amendment regarding the use of natural resource damages collected by the State in
Read More
New Jersey Voters to Decide Important State Constitutional Amendment  concerning the Environment

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

Quick Contact Form