Tent ban not so simple, Belmar debate showed

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BELMAR — The borough will implement a ban on large beach tents and canopies next summer, but the debate that preceded its 3-2 approval on Sept. 5 raised some questions for officials to grapple with.

Councilwoman Jennifer Nicolay, who voted against the measure, worried about people who need a tent in order to visit the beach at all, due to health reasons. She said, “I think we should make some kind of compromise.”

Councilman Brian Magovern, who cast the other no vote, said he had no problem with 8-foot-by-8-foot canopy tents, which he compared to a big beach umbrella. Describing himself as “on the fence,” before the vote, he said, “I can see prohibiting tents but not canopies. Canopies you can see through just like an umbrella, and, actually, the posts are smaller and probably as se- cure.”

He also said he could foresee “real problems” when it comes to enforcement of the ban.

“Because if someone puts a tent on 5th Avenue and the police are down on 15th Avenue … people will go berserk,” he said.

The ordinance does permit popup tents for babies and toddlers, as well as umbrellas.

Mayor Matt Doherty said the three alternatives to the tent ban that he had heard were to designate a certain area of the beach to tents, designate a certain size tent or designate tents that don’t have sides.

Councilman Thomas Brennan, who voted for the ban, said exceptions to it would need to be clearly defined in order for police officers to decide what is appropriate and what is not. He compared it to when designated areas for smoking was in effect at the Belmar shore.

“There’s a reason we got rid of that,” he said. “It didn’t seem to work and confused people. It’s just simpler to say we don’t let anybody put a tent on the beach.”

For more on this story, read The Coast Star—on newsstands Thursday or online in our e-Edition.

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Jennifer Ortiz
Jennifer Ortiz is a Reporter at The Coast Star. She can be reached at jortiz@thecoaststar.com or at 732-223-0076, ext 23.