Municipal Public Access Plans

What is Public Access?

The public’s right to access tidal waters and their shorelines is a concept that has existed since Roman times and continues to this day. Public access is a right expressed in the Public Trust Doctrine, in the many court cases that have interpreted and implemented its strictures, and implicitly in the many legislative acts and regulatory provisions that have sought to protect and enhance access.

Specifically, the Coastal Zone Management Rules at 7:7E-8.11(a) Public Trust Rights, say: “Public trust rights to tidal waterways and their shores (public trust rights) established by the Public Trust Doctrine include public access which is the ability of the public to pass physically and visually to, from and along lands and waters subject to public trust rights as defined at N.J.A.C. 7:7E-3.50, and to use these lands and waters for activities such as swimming, sunbathing, fishing, surfing, sport diving, bird watching, walking and boating. Public trust rights also include the right to perpendicular and linear access. Public accessways and public access areas provide a means for the public to pass along and use lands and waters subject to public trust rights.”

What is a Municipal Public Access Plan (MPAP)?

A Municipal Public Access Plan (MPAP) is an opportunity for municipalities to voluntarily ensure public access is provided in a manner consistent with local conditions and planning objectives. A municipal public access plan (MPAP) is the documentation and review of existing public access, the needs assessment of new or improved public access opportunities, and the plan for meeting those needs through implementation of enhancements. Municipalities that develop plans will have greater opportunities to align public access within their boundaries with other municipal priorities.

Several municipalities in the Lower Raritan Watershed are eligible to develop MPAPs per New Jersey State Law

These communities include:


Carteret Borough (completed)

East Brunswick Township

Edison Township

Highland Park Borough

New Brunswick City (pending approval of NB City Council)

Old Bridge Township

Perth Amboy City

Piscataway Township

Sayreville Borough

South Amboy City

South River Borough

Woodbridge Township