Coastal Access Toolkit
There are multiple ways coastal access challenges can be addressed. More...
Frequently Asked Questions
Collected here are common, general questions about coastal access. They are sorted by the category of people that most often asks them.
Private waterfront landowner
Q: I have questions about the extent of my rights and my liability on my waterfront land.
A: Your rights are limited by the Public Trust Doctrine that allows the public to use tidal areas for recreational purposes. You typically have the right to determine who can access your waterfront land to the mean high tide line. In some cases, upper dry sand areas may also be accessible to the public. Those who access your property against your will may be considered to be trespassing. The New Jersey Landowner Liability law limits your liability, when you provide access to your land for recreational purposes. Limitations on your lands can occasionally be imposed by doctrine, including the potential for eminent domain, takings, prescriptive easements.
A: You can sell an easement or partial property interest. There are a number of kinds of easements, including conservation easements, development rights, and floating easements. Because easements do not require the entire parcel, they would provide you with significantly less income than selling the full title to the property, but they would allow you to retain the property rights you identify in the easement. Click here for more information on easements.
Government or public entity
Q: I am the town planner (or member of the comprehensive planning committee or on the planning board, etc.) and I need to know about incorporating public coastal access needs and opportunities into the town’s plans and programs.
A: Public access to coastal waters as well as ponds and rivers and streams is a topic that is covered in the town’s comprehensive plan. Click here for more information on how towns can address access in their overall planning process. Planning guidance to identify access needs, establish town policy, and establish implementation actions is available from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Office of Smart Growth.
A: Actions needed to improve access to public waters should be spelled out in the town’s comprehensive plan. More information on how towns can address access in their overall planning process can be found here. The implementation section of the plan may specify what is needed in town ordinances. Further guidance may be available from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Office of Smart Growth.
Waterfront userQ: We use private land to get to the coast and want to secure future access. What are our options?
A: To secure your access to private waterfront lands, you can either acquire the land outright or acquire partial rights to the land, such as in an easement. You can also contact your local municipality for a list and/or map of the public access points which each municipality must provide. A number of programs exist to assist individuals and organizations buy land or acquire easements. Click here for more information.