As a planning commissioner, I voted against the abandonment of rights of way on Porretto Beach. I was quoted in The Daily News as saying, “I recognize that the criteria for abandonment is valid, but I think this is a different situation because it’s a beach…” The validity I mention was in reference to properties — not on the beach.

Some dismissed this as a bias vote, but I don’t simply think that this situation is different — it is different. We live on a barrier island, where beach properties consistently receive more robust review/restrictions. Why should this case be any different? It is not an innate property owner right to have the city abandon rights of way.

A vote against abandonment does not equate to “not following the rules.” Per the city lawyer, one criteria for approval is “does abandonment have a community benefit?” My answer to this is no. I am concerned abandoning rights-of-way allows for dense building on a narrow beach; creating further instability within our delicate beach ecology. One purpose of planning commission is to thoroughly explore complicated cases. Despite claims otherwise, this constitutes such a case. If our only responsibility was to rubber stamp recommendations from the city, why exist at all?

Cate Black



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