The Department of Environmental Protection has scheduled three public forums on their .
The first of these public meetings will be held Thursday, May 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Jersey City at the Liberty State Park Central Railroad Terminal Building's Blue Comet Auditorium.
Additional hearings will be held on Tuesday, May 17 at 11 a.m. at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in the Townsend Residential Life Center and on Monday, May 23 at 1 p.m. in the Seaside Heights Municipal Court room.
The rule changes proposed by the DEP under Commissioner Bob Martin and Governor Chris Christie have who fear changes to access rules established under former Governor Corzine could result in less meaningful access for the public.
The rule changes date back to stakeholder meetings held in August of 2010 and were originally proposed in early April after months of speculation.
While the DEP has touted these rule changes as a local alternative to one-size-fits-all state mandates for access, advocates worry that without state mandates, municipalities are likely to reduce or remove accessibility.
In addition, the rule changes would no longer tie public funding for beach replenishment to access requirements, a move which activists say could lead to public tax dollars being spent to restore beaches that the public may never get the chance to use.
A late December 2010 poll conducted by the Rutgers Eagleton Center for Public Interest found that 82.1 percent of New Jersey residents feel that when government funds are used to replenish beaches, towns should be required to improve visitor access.