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North Wildwood proposes banning large tents on beach this summer. Here's what would be allowed

North Wildwood looking to ban large tents, cabanas on beach due to erosion
North Wildwood looking to ban large tents, cabanas on beach due to erosion 02:12

NORTH WILDWOOD, N.J. (CBS) - North Wildwood officials announced Thursday they are proposing a ban on large tents and cabanas on the beach this summer. The city said they issued the proposal because there is not enough space on the beach due to erosion. 

"It's simply a matter of space, we don't have the space to allow people with 10x10 tents or 12x12 tents to set up on the beach," said Patrick Rosenello, Mayor of North Wildwood.

North Wildwood said the lack of space has caused beachgoers to set up much closer to one another during the busy summer months. 

To create a more enjoyable experience for beachgoers, the city would allow circular umbrellas that are a maximum of 8 feet in diameter and 7 feet 6 inches in height, and baby tents that are 36 inches in height, width, and length.    

The ordinance has sparked mixed reactions in North Wildwood.

"I can understand that, and I think it's really necessary because you're not going to have the room," said Ronnie McCusker, who has been going to North Wildwood her whole life.

"I take tents, but at the same time if I can't take a tent, I can't take a tent," said Dillon McLaughlin. "It makes sense, things change, especially with the environment changing, you have to change with it."

"I think it's going to be hard because I mean with the sun, we always use it for sun protection," said Betty Ann Bradley. "With the limited space on the beaches now it's going to be tough to even find a spot on the beach I guess."

The proposal is slated for final adoption by city council on May 7. If approved at that meeting, it would go into effect May 15.

If there is a significant change in the size of the beach, by way of a beach replenishment project or accretion, then officials said city council will revisit the proposed restrictions.

The mayor said signs would be posted, and lifeguards and police officers would enforce the ordinance. At this time, the restrictions would only apply to the 2024 season. 

What happened to the beach in North Wildwood? 

Recent winter storms caused further erosion to North Wildwood's already battered dune system. In February, a breach in the dunes formed at the 13th Avenue beach access point, and a gap that formed in mid-January, between 13th and 15th Avenues, has grown bigger.

"At this point, almost every block is affected or impacted in some way shape, or form," said Rosenello.

The dunes are designed to protect the city's eastern half from ocean water rushing into the streets.

The city applied for emergency authorization to build a bulkhead — a metal wall — along the 13th Avenue dunes to protect against flooding, but the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection denied the request, saying there's no imminent threat to infrastructure or properties.

The department added that a metal bulkhead could cause further damage to the beach.

Rosenello said North Wildwood has not had a beach nourishment project in more than 11 years.

"Every beach in New Jersey would look like this if they weren't getting regular beach nourishment projects, and unfortunately that's been the case in North Wildwood," Rosenello said.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beach nourishment project is not slated to begin for more than a year. Rosenello said he has been in touch with Governor Phil Murphy's office in the past few weeks, but there is no timeline on any projects happening sooner.

"The Governor and his team have engaged directly with the Mayor and North Wildwood community to address this issue and will continue to work collaboratively to identify a solution to mitigate erosion in North Wildwood," said Natalie Hamilton, spokesperson for Governor Murphy.

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