Legislation providing access to tidal waterways was amended today by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee to exempt critical infrastructure from the requirements. NJBIA supported the amendment and supports the bill, S-1074 (Smith, D-17; Bateman, R-16).

The committee then released the amended bill.

“While we can and should protect the public’s right to access the state’s shores, rivers and bays, we also must recognize that some areas need to be off limits,” said NJBIA Vice President Sara Bluhm. “We are grateful to Senators Smith and Bateman and the members of the committee for recognizing that some facilities simply cannot provide public access and should not be required to.”

Specifically, the amendment would exclude properties that provide critical infrastructure, as determined by the NJ Department of Homeland Security, and specific federal requirements.

“Facilities like ports, power plants and nuclear energy facilities are unsuitable for public access; it would provide a safety hazard as well,” Bluhm said. “NJBIA believes that these amendments will protect public safety without meaningfully impacting the public’s right to enjoy our waters and out shoreline.”

In 2016, Bluhm was one of four co-chairs of a stakeholder working group that Senator Smith had tasked with coming up with legislative recommendations on public access to tidal waterways.