Beach access problem returns in Cape May County seaside community | Local News

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“They only own the high tide line of the beach. Anything beyond that is public,” Sippel said.

The fight at Diamond Beach isn’t centuries old, but it’s nothing new either. In 2002, a person was charged with trespassing during a protest at a private beach club. After that, a group of neighbors filed a complaint for beach access.

Today, beach owners do not dispute the public’s right of access.

“Icona’s private beach is fully compliant with the public trust doctrine,” Corrado said. This includes providing a path to the wet sandy part of the beach through the private area and a narrow section along the ocean where residents can set up their beach chairs and blankets.

But there is not always a lot of room on this section.

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“When it’s high tide, it’s a problem,” said Michael Laffey, who was hired this year as manager of the Lower Township.

In the summer of 2005, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the public trust doctrine with respect to another private beach at Diamond Beach.

Several people interviewed for this story said the problem comes back every few years.

According to Sippel, occasional misunderstandings arise when beach clubs hire new people, someone moves into the neighborhood, or someone visits Diamond Beach for the first time. To further complicate the matter, nearby Wildwood Crest does not require a beach tag, nor does Wildwood or North Wildwood on the same barrier island.

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