A lone angler fishes on the Point Pleasant Beach side of the Manasquan Inlet Wednesday, May 27, 2020. Restrictions were lifted to fishing there with the requirement for maintaining a 6 foot distance. (Photo: Thomas P. Costello)

NJ - Reopening Beach towns tell state 'Let us decide'

When it comes to the type of guidance he wants from Gov. Phil Murphy about beach operations in the time of coronavirus, Lavallette Mayor Walter LaCicero is pretty clear: As little as possible.

"This is not a 'one size fits all,'" said LaCicero. "We’ve got to take each town individually and allow the towns to assess the situation and come up with a solution that works for visitors and also residents who want to use the beaches."

New Jersey has a strong tradition of "home rule," in which communities decide major issues for themselves. Even a global pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 12,000 state residents has not shaken the belief of local municipalities that they are better positioned to operate beaches and boardwalks than the governor or Trenton legislators.

"I think home rule makes more sense on the beaches," said Toms River Mayor Maurice B. "Mo" Hill Jr. The township operates the public ocean beach in Ortley Beach, on northern Ocean County's barrier island.

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