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Restore the Shore the Right Way

Date : Thu, 15 Nov 2012 16:07:28 -0500

For Immediate Release
November 14, 2012 Contact:Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Restore the Shore the Right Way As we are starting to deal with the aftermath of the Hurricane and people are trying to rebuild their lives and properties we need to understand why we got this way and why the devastation was so bad.The storms come but our land use decisions can make the implications worse.There were efforts under previous administrations to protect the shore and do hazard planning but we have seen protections stopped by special interests.In the 1980s under Governor Kean a coastal commission was proposed but the builders and their allies stopped it.When changes were proposed to the Coastal Area Facilities Review Act (CAFRA) to close loopholes and strengthen regulations, again the builders and their allies were able to stop those positive changes.Even after Hurricane Floyd there we attempts to close the CAFRA loopholes and that was stopped in the Legislature. Even legislation that would have set up a catastrophic insurance pool so that tax payers would not be on the hook for repairing the shore after a major storm event was blocked.There were attempts at regulatory fixes under Governors Whitman and McGreevy to limit sprawl along the coast and they were stopped as well.What progress we have made is being undone by the Christie administration.

"Overdevelopment and sprawl have made disasters at the shore much worse.Building in the wrong place and filling in wetlands and tidal marshes has only impacted more people and property. Nature brought the storm but government decisions made the impacts worse," *said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club*. "For far too long special interests and their friends in the Legislature have been able to block any positive changes at the shore to protect people and property.We have seen the work of those lobbyists with catastrophic results."

Jeff continued, "We need to rebuild the coast and do it right but the same special interests will be there to stop changes as they have in the past.It will take a lot of public support and pressure to make sure it is done right.Otherwise we will miss our last chance to make sure we have a Jersey Shore for future generations." Governor Christie's Red Tape Review Group, streamlining regulations, and DEP transformation have been used as ways to roll back environmental protections.Governor Christie weakened land use tools within the DEP that prevent sprawl in flood prone and wetland areas.His administration has rolled back the stormwater, stream buffer, water quality management, beach access, and flood hazard rules, removing key protections.The waiver rule further guts environmental regulations.Instead of fixing CAFRA, which is broken, the administration is weakening the rules further.The administration has rolled dune protections and has allowed beach bars and other developments that impact dunes. Governor Christie vetoed 2 important bills to reduce stormwater in the Barnegat Bay and a bill establishing aTotal Maximum Daily Load for the Bay.

"The Governor has done a great job during this disaster meeting with people that have been impacted.However while he has done a good job during the emergency many of his policies have made the disaster worse. He now has an important opportunity to correct those mistakes when we rebuild the Jersey Shore or he could continue down the path to making damage from the next storm even more severe.We believe the Governor has made a strong commitment to the people of New Jersey to rebuild the coast and now he has the opportunity to make sure we move the economy forward while protecting the environment by putting in place programs to rebuild the shore the right way," said Jeff Tittel. DEP is already starting to have their secret stakeholder meetings.Instead of bringing people together they are trying to divide to conquer and bring in special interests to help them weaken environmental protections in the name of Sandy while giving themselves green cover for meeting with certain environmental groups. Many of the areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy are growth areas in the State Strategic Plan and under CAFRA such as Lacey, Stafford, and Toms River.In the CARFA zone near the coast in Ocean County we could add 200,000 more people based on existing regulations.They want to add another 100,000 people to Lakewood on top of that, more than doubling Ocean County's population. Areas that were just flooded are slated for growth under the Strategic Plan. The Christie administration has not adopted new FEMA mapping that shows how flooding has gotten worse in New Jersey.These new maps would help protect people and property, but Governor Christie does not want to limit development in those areas. By not fixing those maps people do not know they live in flood prone areas and do not get flood insurance, costing the tax payers more money. Governor Christie stopped progress under previous administrations who had come forward with studies on adaptation to climate change and sea level rise including hazard planning.There were important reports and mapping about the Delaware Bay Shore and protecting critical infrastructure in the Meadowlands and Newark airport.Governor Christie eliminated the Office of Climate Change which played a role in the reports and now you cannot even find those reports on the DEP website.

"Instead of doing a better job in planning for sea level rise and storm surges, the Governor has actually stopped all the progress we made under other administrations.They eliminated the Office of Climate Change, downgraded the Division of Science to an Office, and either buried or hid the reports that were done on the impacts of sea level rise to New Jersey," said Jeff Tittel. There are critical policies and practices that we need to revise, create, and eliminate so that we can rebuild the coast in the right way and keep people and property safe.

  Coastal Council*. We need to create a coastal council to coordinate     efforts to rebuild along the shore and to make ensure we protect     vital infrastructure, do proper planning and zoning, and develop     building codes.During the recovery, this body would help coordinate     funding and regional rebuilding activities so that redevelopment in     one town does not negatively impact neighboring communities.

  Better Planning*.New Jersey needs to adopt the new FEMA flood maps,     update building codes, and start implementing adaptation and hazard     planning along our coastto make sure we build in the right places     using sound science and based on capacity of drinking water and     wastewater.

A recent study found that by 2050 the sea level at Sandy Hook could rise by 21 to 35 inches, meaning water could move up to three feet inland.The study projected 6.5% to 9% of the state could be impacted by coastal flooding over the next 100 years.We need to incorporate these projections into state, regional, and municipal master plans and other planning documents. We need to scrap the Strategic Plan and instead fix and update the State Plan, a plan that is based on carrying capacity analysis and natural resources. As we rebuild we need to revise our building codes so structures stand up better to higher winds and flooding.We need to use metal bands or tie to hold down roof rafters and metal roofs instead of shingles.We need to build further back from flood prone areas and the dunes and also make sure we elevate not only houses but key infrastructure.We should be promoting more green homes and energy efficient buildings when we rebuild as well.

  Fix CAFRA*.We need to close loopholes and change the impervious     cover limits to allow less development in environmentally sensitive     areas. Developments of less than 25 units in environmentally sensitive areas are currently exempt from CAFRA regulations.We need to close this loophole so that impervious cover limits and protections of sensitive features apply to new projects along our shore.This loophole creates a death of a thousand cuts. We also need the DEP to do a better job of enforcing CAFRA violations, especially with development in the wrong places and that encroaches on dunes.Dunes are critically important for property protection and the environment.

  Infrastructure*.We need to protect and rebuild vital infrastructure     in the right places and rebuild dunes and coastal wetlands to     protect against the impacts of future storms. We need to look at renewable energy solutions and distributive generation to help prevent blackouts in the future. We need an infrastructure assessment to determine where we need to upgrade infrastructure to meet the demands of rebuilding the shore as well as the rest of New Jersey.

  Catastrophic Insurance Pool.*We cannot allow people to keep     rebuilding in the same place and have tax payers foot the bill each     time there is a storm.We need to put in place a catastrophic     insurance pool as was done in Florida and other places so tax payers     are not on the hook to cover all the costs.    Blue Acres Funding*.Our open space fund is out of money so we will     not be able to purchase many of these sites through the Blue Acres     Program, which helps move families out of harm's way.We need funding     to preserve lands to create more dunes and areas for flood water     storage.    Coordinate Disaster Relief Funding Programs*. FEMA will give you     money to replace electronics and appliances but a homeowner must     apply to a different program for money to elevate or move hot water     heaters, furnaces, and air conditioners.We need to coordinate the     programs so that when we rebuild and replace things we can protect     them from the next storm.    Limit Federal Disaster Funding*.We need to stop using public money     to subsidize development in the wrong places.Disaster relief must     not keep using taxpayer money to rebuild the same house in the same     wrong location every three years.Instead they should be giving them     money to rebuild somewhere else.

"We must and we will rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.However we need to do it better, smarter, and in the right places.New Jersey needs to fundamentally change how and where we build along our flood prone areas.We need to protect environmentally sensitive areas and features like dunes and flood prone areas," said Jeff Tittel.

Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2012-11-15 13:07:28

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