County Officials Oppose State Bill to Regulate Atlantic City Beach Bars

Two Atlantic County officials have come out against a plan to have Atlantic City enforce noise regulations at the city’s beach bars. With Atlantic City struggling, they say this is not the time to impede local businesses.

Two Atlantic County freeholders are opposing a state bill that would allow Atlantic City to regulate noise at the resort’s beach bars.

The bars usually play loud music and have been generating complaints from Boardwalk residents.

But Freeholder Chairman Frank Formica, a Republican, and Ernest Coursey, a Democrat, who both represent sections of Atlantic City, said that the bill introduced by state Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic) will hurt the beach bars and plan to introduce a resolution urging Governor Chris Christie not to sign the bill, according to the Press of Atlantic City.

“Basically this looks like a harmless bill that revokes the Atlantic City beach bar’s exemption to a local noise ordinance, and gives Atlantic City’s government the power to enforce the noise ordinance,” Formica wrote in a letter cosigned by Coursey. “But this not a harmless bill.

“I spoke personally with the CEO’s of most of the Casinos that run beach bars,” the letter said. “They indicated to me that if their beach bar operations are impeded this summer, they are inclined to close shop and throw their hands up in the air. They are finally making some revenue and can’t understand why anyone would support such a bill.”

The noise exemption for beach bars was created when Atlantic City created a tourism district in 2011 and exempted any Atlantic City beach bar from the state Noise Control Act of 1971, which mandates municipal enforcement.

Whelan said initially, the enforcement was to be handed over to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority—which operates the tourism district—but casinos and the CRDA objected.

Whelan told the Press that it was never intended for there to be no noise regulations at all for beach bars, and that the bill would only return the situation to where it was in 2011.

The bill has passed both the state Senate and Assembly and is now before Governor Chris Christie.