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‘Beach Butler’ Service Can Continue to Operate in Lavallette, Council Decides

Dune grass plantings and progress on building access on replenished beaches island-wide, Feb. 2019. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Dune grass plantings and progress on building access on replenished beaches island-wide, Feb. 2019. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

A service in which beach chairs and umbrellas are set up to nab a prime piece of beach real estate early in the morning – for a fee – will be allowed to continue in Lavallette despite some complaints.

Beach Butler, a service that is run by local resident Mike Mazzola, employs a staff that picks up residents’ beach equipment early in the morning and sets it up so it is ready when they arrive for some sunbathing. But the business has faced complaints about taking up all of the best areas of the beach, including those closest to lifeguard stands, with chairs sometimes unoccupied for hours.

The borough council voted 3-2 to allow the service to continue. In the past, when Beach Butler’s business has been discussed, there were legal concerns brought up as to whether or not the borough actual has the jurisdiction to allow or disallow a person from paying another person to set up their beach chairs. But Mazzola worked with borough officials to alleviate some of the complaints that have come in and will operate with new regulations in place this year.

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Borough Administrator Robert Brice said Mazzola agreed to avoid the practice of taking up large chunks of sand all at once.

“This is not going to include any sort of food delivery, he will not set up close to the water – that was a complaint in years past – and he will stagger multiple clients that he has,” Brice said.

Beach Butler will also avoid setting up a “semi-circle” of clients that take up large amounts of space, and will leave ample room for lifeguards.

Also: “He assured me he will dig the umbrellas in and keep them closed so they don’t catch wind,” Brice said.

Mazzola’s application was opposed by Mark Speaker of the Lavallette Business Association, who specifically complained about the semi-circle pattern of six umbrellas and the fact that some beachgoers do not shut them down before leaving and notifying the service their day has ended.

“It’s a unique business, and it’s not a business I feel we need,” he said. “This is a dawn-to-dusk situation. It is not beach yoga that goes for two hours or surf camp that goes for two or three hours.”

Councilwoman Joanne Filippone voted against granting a permit for the business because she said she did not have enough information on its regulatory status, though she does not oppose it in a general sense. Councilman David Finter also voted against the application. The remainder of the council voted in favor of it.

The application was approved pending Mazzola’s renewal of his liability insurance policy.

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