Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Raleigh Avenue Beach Association v. Atlantis Beach Club case brief

Raleigh Avenue Beach Association v. Atlantis Beach Club case brief summary
879 A.2d 112 (2005)

A beach club (D) was granted certification in order to appeal a decision made by a New Jersey appeals court. 
The court held that the club could not limit vertical or horizontal access to its dry sand beach area and could not interfere with the public's right to free use of the dry sand for recreational purposes which were intermittent.
The suit was filed by a neighborhood association.
The association asserted the club had violated the public trust doctrine.

A club held title to beach property. 
This beach was the only beach in the township that faced the Atlantic Ocean.
The beach was open to the public for at least 10 years.
In 1996, the club established a private beach club and made access limited.
Access was limited by the club's charging substantial fees for beach memberships.

  • The court applied factors that were set out in Matthews which regarded application of the public trust doctrine. 
  • The court affirmed the appellate division's decision. 
  • The court based its ruling on the ten year prior public access to and use of the beach, and a Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) permit which was issued to a condominium project that was next to the beach which required public access to the beach.
  • The court also found important the lack of publicly-owned beaches in the township, as well as clubs use of the beach as a business enterprise. 
  • The court furthermore adopted the appeal's division's ruling that the club could charge a reasonable fee to cover expenses for lifeguards, trash removal, and shower facilities. 
  • The Department of Environmental Protection had jurisdiction under CAFRA to review the fees proposed by the club.
The decision of the appeals court was affirmed.

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