Wednesday, August 28, 2013

NJDEP cutting red tape for post-Sandy restorations

                                                                             Reuters photo

To help shore communities, businesses and residents rebuild after the devastation
of Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey's environmental regulatory agency is streamlining
some of its coastal permit rules.

On July 15, 2013, the Department of Environmental Protection formally adopted previous emergency rules that allow various types of projects to proceed under less cumbersome permit procedures, including permits by rule and general permits.

The DEP said the changes eliminate or significantly reduce time needed for reviews
and also will save property owners fees and costs
associated with more complex
permit requirements.

"The activities regulated by the simplified permit processes are for reconstruction activities that are occurring largely on the same footprint or involve minimal (up to 400 square feet) expansion. In many cases, these changes will provide significant environmental benefits and better prepare coastal communities for future storms.

"The rules expedite the rebuilding of residential and commercial structures by:
  • Providing for a permit by rule for reconstruction of damaged residential or commercial structures in upland waterfront development areas that are outside the CAFRA zone, primarily Raritan Bay and the Newark-New York Harbor complex. Such rebuilding is already exempt in the state’s CAFRA zone, which hugs the coastline from Sandy Hook south to Cape May Point and north again along the Delaware Bay to Salem County.
  • Helping property owners make their buildings safer when feasible by changing the current general permit requirement to a permit by rule for lateral or landward relocation of the existing footprint of a structure. Expansion must be no more than 400 square feet.
  • Eliminating the need for a permit to elevate a bulkhead, dock or pier as part of repair, replacement or reconstruction, as long as this is done in the existing footprint and not over wetlands. This will provide more resilience in future storms.

"The rules also provide flexibility to allow marinas and other small businesses to enhance their operations without coming to DEP by:
  • Changing current individual permits to permits by rule to allow marinas to reconfigure docks, wharfs, and piers within their existing leased areas.
  • Allowing a permit by rule for construction or installation of boat pump-out facilities.
  • Changing current individual permit requirements to a general permit to allow for construction of support facilities.

Other recovery efforts covered by the rule adoption include
beach and dune restoration, sand removal, recovery of the shellfish/aquaculture industry, and the
dredging of lagoons and marina basins.

Click here to see a full copy of the rule adoption including DEP responses to public comments filed during the hearing process.

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