Shore Report

Belmar Puts End to ‘Beach Spreading’ by Banning Large Tents and Canopies during Busy Summer Season

Large tents, such as this one which was put up during the recent showing of a beachfront movie among the crowd, are now banned from all Belmar beaches.

BELMAR, NJ — When heading to the Belmar beach next summer, make sure to leave the tent or canopy at home.

The borough council on September 5 approved a measure that prohibits tents, canopies or any shade-producing devices measuring more than 36 inches in height, width or depth on their beaches from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Most beach umbrellas and small sun shelters measuring under the prohibited size are permitted throughout the year, according to the ordinance approved in a 3-2 vote.

Sign Up for E-News

Calls for the tent ban have been mounting as Belmar began to experience an increasing number of large tents or canopies rising along the water’s edge on any beach day — some being set up two to three across, creating large covered compounds where beachgoers can be seen inside cooking on electric stoves, watching television or changing clothes.

Before “beach-spreading” became a major safety issue along the borough’s beachfront, the governing body in August introduced the measure to prohibit the practice, triggering a flurry of mainstream and social media attention from those on both sides of the issue.

In contrast, no comments were made during the public hearing before the adoption of the new regulation, except for those by Mayor Matthew Doherty and council members who were split on the measure.

There was discussion over whether the measure should include exceptions for various reasons with Councilwoman Jennifer Nicolay, who voted against the measure, saying she wanted to see compromises made before the ban was adopted.

“Safety is my top priority. As a mother of two young children, I’ve moved my beach chair many times because of a tent,” she said, referring to those times when the structures blocked her line of sight to the water’s edge when her children were in the surf.

However, she didn’t want the ban to infringe upon those individuals who may need a shade-producing device because of a medical condition. “I’m not for tents, but I don’t want to tell certain people they can’t go to the beach (because of the restriction),” said Nicolay, who proposed to limit tents to possibly the back of the beach near the boardwalk or to a certain area.

Doherty said those types of restrictions could create a “whack-a-mole” situation because permitting tents and canopies in a certain area would affected another group of beachgoers or beachfront operation or activity. He cited as examples the beach volleyball courts along the boardwalk and the area near the Belmar Fishing Club at 100 Ocean Avenue, where the back beach would be wide enough to accommodate tents.

“If people just had common sense and courtesy, we wouldn’t need to address this,” the mayor said, adding he preferred the “cleaner” measure to ban all large tents and canopies, rather than allowing conditions. “If you give people a small window to exploit it, unfortunately they will.”

Doherty pointed to a recent example when a large tent was put up during the showing of a beachfront movie — a photo of which he posted on Twitter with the comment, "Tent set up in the middle of a crowd watching a moving on the beach in Belmar last night. C'mon man!"

In those circumstances when larger-sized tents or canopies are needed by beachgoers because of a medical condition or for any other reasonable request, Doherty and Councilmen Thomas Brennan and Mark Walsifer agreed that the police would have the discretion of making allowances in enforcing the ban.

While Doherty, Brennan and Walsifer voted in favor of the measure, Council President Brian Magovern cast the other dissenting vote — not because he was in favor of allowing tents, but because he didn’t want canopies to be prohibited.  “An 8-by-8-foot canopy, with just the top, is similar to a big umbrella. It’s when you put walls on it, there is a problem.”

Belmar joins neighbor Avon-by-the-Sea and nearby Point Pleasant Beach in banning large tents and canopies.

While beach-spreading has not reportedly caused any mishaps in Belmar, the practice can pose a safety risk for several reasons, according to officials.

Since the poles on large canopies cannot be properly secured in sand, the structures can easily go airborne on windy days, injuring individuals in their paths. And depending where they are set up, large tents can hinder a lifeguard’s direct line of sight and access to the water.

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

Clark

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_e4f06509ef42506bbcda_night_golfv2

Fri, September 22, 9:00 PM

Clark

Night Golf at Hyatt Hills of Clark

Carousel_image_809b9d8b6bc3c32a3a62_spaghetti_dinner

Sun, September 24, 4:00 AM

Columbian Club of Garwood (Knights of Columbus Building), Garwood

Annual Spaghetti Dinner & Tricky Tray

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Other

Latin-Corner Block Party at Cubanu This Saturday During Culture Crawl

September 19, 2017

Rahway, NJ – Head over to Cubanu Restaurant and Lounge, an official stop on the Culture Crawl in Rahway on Saturday September 23 for a Latin Corner Block Party.   Festivities include an outside beer garden, a taste of Cubanu's food and music.   

When you are done, creep your way through the rest of downtown Rahway to enjoy the ...

Hillsborough: Children's Singer/Songwriter Faces Child Pornography Charge

September 19, 2017

 

NEWARK, NJ – Eric. S. Komar a township resident, music teacher and singer/songwriter who performs for children at synagogues, Jewish community centers, camps and conventions nationwide was arrested at his home Tuesday and charged with receiving and distributing images of child sexual abuse, according to Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick.

 Komar, 46, was arrested ...

Help Save Sabattis Adventure Camp for Our Boy Scouts

September 11, 2017

All of the other troops think that Blackfoot is the worst campsite at Sabattis Adventure Camp. That’s because it’s the furthest walk to the center of camp. Troop 77 knows that Blackfoot is the best campsite at Sabattis. We’ve been camping at that campsite every summer for years, far longer than our current scouts or their older brothers can remember.

Blackfoot is a very ...

Obituaries

South Plainfield – Ellen Parker, 76, passed away on Monday, August 21, 2017 in JFK Haven ...
Read more
South Plainfield – Ruth McArthur, 87, died Monday, August 14, 2017 after a lengthy ...
Read more