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Proposed N.J. Law Would Guarantee Public Access To Jersey Shore Beaches

MANTOLOKING, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The Jersey Shore belongs to everyone and there should be no question about it, one state lawmaker says.

As WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported, lawmakers are going back to the Roman Empire in their latest effort to guarantee public access to the shoreline.

State Sen. Bob Smith (D-Piscataway) said the ability of people to access the beach is part of common law referred to as the king's right.

"The state has the right to a certain portion of the shoreline, and it has that right of access to the shoreline on behalf of its citizens," he said.

Smith said the state's citizens are the equivalent of the king's subject.

Smith and other state lawmakers have introduced a new beach access bill that writes the Public Trust Doctrine -- guaranteeing public access to waterways -- into law.

He said the bill would eliminate any ambiguities.

"You have a beach for everybody," Smith said.

Some Jersey Shore towns have long sought to keep outsiders off their sand through exorbitant beach badge prices, drastic restrictions on parking, and rules prohibiting food on the beach.

There was opposition to the bill from property owners and environmentalists, but Smith called it a consensus bill.

The bill exempts critical infrastructure like waterfront chemical or nuclear plants.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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