Flap over large tents on beach spurs Belmar ban



A new ordinance bans large tents and canopies on the beaches during the summer season at a popular Jersey Shore destination.

The restrictions in Monmouth County’s Belmar, which take effect effect next year, prohibit setting up big tents between Memorial Day and Labor Day because of complaints that they take up too much space and could endanger public safety.

“There were folks taking these tents and putting them right down by the water, which would obstruct the view as people were looking into the water,” said Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty. “God forbid there was a swimmer in distress … if we didn’t see them behind the tent for some reason, that could be life threatening.”

Doherty said he believes more Shore towns will consider similar bans. Some already have.

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Avon-by-the-Sea hasn’t allowed tents on its beaches for two summer seasons, andborough administrator Kerry McGuigan said it hasn’t hurt tourism.

“We haven’t noticed any effect. We’ve had a lot of people still coming to our beaches,” McGuigan said. “People can still just bring an umbrella if they chose to seek shelter from the sun.”

Officials in Sea Isle City are pondering possible restrictions on beach tents, but director of community services Katherine Custer said she’s hearing mixed public sentiment about that idea.

“A very few people have mentioned that they do feel that some of the larger pop-up tents are, in fact, too large, and they block people’s views of the ocean and will take up a lot of space,” Custer said. “But I’ve also heard people say that they don’t find the pop-up tents offensive — and if you want to get a good spot at the beach, you should just arrive earlier in the day.”

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