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DEP Coastal Rules Sell Out our Coast

Date : Wed, 6 Aug 2014 10:21:14 -0400

For Immediate Release

July 9, 2014

Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

DEP Coastal Rules Sell Out our Coast

Today in Tuckerton the DEP will hold the final public hearing on the proposed new CAFRA and Coastal Zone Management rules. This is the first major revision and rewriting of the rules since Hurricane Sandy. Instead of looking to strengthen coastal protections and encourage more regional planning we end up with more loopholes and waivers, weakening coastal protections instead of strengthening. Nowhere in the rule do they mention climate change or sea level rise. There is no program for adaptation or mitigation of sea level rise. There is no program to do resiliency or restore natural systems. Instead we see more loopholes and weakening of permits.

"This is the first rule to come out about coastal development since the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Instead of learning the lessons from Sandy and trying to make our coast more resilient and better protect people and property, this rule opens up our coast for more overdevelopment that puts more people and property at risk. What is most disturbing is that we have a chance to get it right and instead we are perpetuating the mistakes of the past and making it worse," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

Jeff continued, "This rule is not about more predictability, transparency, or eliminating red tape; it is about eliminating protections for our coast, allowing more sprawl and overdevelopment, and putting more people and property in harm's way. These rules will allow for more intense development on piers, marinas, more commercial development behind sea walls, all of which will mean more damage to property. All this new development is being done in the wrong places means the tax payers of New Jersey will be spending more to fix roads, water and sewer lines, electrical infrastructure, and helping people to rebuild in areas they should not have been allowed to build in in the first place. These rules not only hurt the environment and people but will cost tax payers more money. These rules actually add more loopholes, waivers, and roll backs of protections."

The DEP has proposed major changes to the Coastal Zone Management Rules:

Not only have they expanded general permits but they have expanded permit by rule and created a new classification called permit by certification where the developer or engineer applies for a permit online and meets the criteria and gets the permit automatically. There would be not governmental review and no public input. Under the permit by certification you can put in piers, docks, and boat ramps for single family homes. Typically a homeowner would have to go to the Tidelands Council and get wetlands permits for those projects, but now they just have to say there are no impacts and then receive a permit.

"By expanding general permits and permits by rule, they limit public participation and governmental oversight and end up allowing for more environmental impacts. We are most troubled by the new concept of ‘permit by certification' where someone just applies for a permit and gives it to themselves," said Jeff Tittel.

The rules include a new waiver that if you do not meet the standards for development or if your permit would likely be rejected for impact to coastal resources you can get a waiver as long as there is a "public good" and still receive a permit.

"They basically doubled the exemptions from CAFRA, flood hazard and dune protections, putting more people and property in harm's way," said Jeff Tittel.

Two family houses and duplexes will be exempted from CAFRA, flood hazard regulations, and dune protections. This use to only apply to single family homes.

Restaurants at marinas will not be exempted from some standards. Marinas will also be exempted from infill standards. For example if two docks were separated by wetlands or shellfish beds you can now fill to connect them. The rule allows for hotels and other commercial developments at marinas.

If you are on the landward side of a second dune, a sea wall, or a paved road there is a new exemption for restaurants, commercial developments, and new hotels.

They allow now for resort recreational use on piers, making it easier to build piers and also build on them.

"There are more loopholes and exemptions for commercial developments and marinas even if they are being built on shellfish beds and environmentally sensitive lands. This is a giveaway to developers and politically connected marina owners. Now we understand why there is a proposal to build a 4 mile long seawall along Rt 35, because there is now an exemption for building commercial developments behind a seawall," said Jeff Tittel.

The rules make it easier to dredge and dump the dredge material. The rule also designates dredge material as clean fill, even if it is not.

There are now 22 permits by rule. A couple positives one would allow you to put solar on your lawn and another would allow you to install up to 3 wind turbines.

There is an agricultural exemption so you do not need buffers on agricultural land.

Under these rules it is much easier to destroy environmental sensitive habitat and natural features such as wetlands and do mitigation which may or may not work but could never make up for the resources that were destroyed.

"This rule has nothing to do with rebuilding and is for new development only. The administration would rather take care of developers than people who have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy. This is about building new developments, not getting people back in thier homes," said Jeff Tittel.

CAFRA changes include:

The DEP is using a definition of "nonporous cover" including lawns, crushed stone, compacted seashells and others as porous. We know form the studies that have been done that those are actually compacted soils and are not porous.

"Instead of fixing the broken CAFRA program we are even more detrimental to the environment. We are allowing for more high density development in environmentally sensitive area, we are putting more people and property in high hazard areas and we will be paving over our environmentally sensitive coastal areas. This is going to increase flooding, water pollution, and actually hurt water quality in our bays and beaches," said Jeff Tittel. "All the pollution from sprawl and overdevelopment will result in more beach closings and chase away tourists, hurting our tourism economy."

They use the 2001 State Plan which is old and outdated. It does not include threatened and endangered species, C1 streams and buffers, up to date flood mapping, no information on sea level rise and storm surges. It allows for extremely high density development in some of the most vulnerable high hazard areas of New Jersey. In urban areas it is 90% non-porous cover, in regional centers its 80%, planning area 1 is 70% (20 units plus per acre), medium density planning area 3 in 40% (10-12 units per acre), and coastal sewer service areas are 30% (about 8-10 units per acre).

"Under CAFRA the amount of development that is allowed is based on planning areas and centers. That mapping allows the intensity of development based on the amount of impervious cover. What we see in the mapping that many of the areas that were under water during Sandy, are now slated for more development and growth. There have been no changes in policies and planning in decades, even after all that has happened to our state and our coast The mapping is based on political science, not real science," said Jeff Tittel.

Under these rules they have not made any changes based on the impacts from Hurricane Sandy, sea level rise, or storm surges, and now they are proposing to have high density developments in some of the most high hazard areas of the state. For example Mystic Island in Ocean County, Tuckerton, Eagleswood, and Mantoloking are all coastal growth centers. Other centers include: In Cumberland County some of the areas that have seen some of the highest levels of sea level rise and coastal erosion like Fortesque, Sea Breeze, and Gandy's Beach; in Atlantic County Port Republic; in Cape May County, Villas, Rio Grande, Sea Isle City, South Dennis, in Monmouth County Belmar, Union Beach, Keansburg. In many places we are promoting growth and high density development in communities that are looking for buyouts.

When you analyze vacant land and the non-porous cover densities allowed under CAFRA, just in the CAFRA zone in Ocean County you could add 400,000 people. In Cape May County you could double the year round population.

There is no analysis for drinking water and sewer capacity, nor looking at the impact of non-point source pollution. The DEP is not looking at climate change or sea level rise. There is no hazard planning. The plan is not based on science, but rather political science.

They have not improved their policies based on Hurricane Sandy or pollution in Barnegat Bay.

Under this plan the Barnegat Bay watershed could be 40% non-porous cover. When watershed goes over 30% there are irreparably harmed and cannot be restored.

There is nothing in here to lessen development impacts in environmentally sensitive areas, areas vulnerable to sea level rise, or to limit impervious cover to improve water quality. Instead of fixing CAFRA, eliminating loopholes, limiting impervious cover, and restoring and rebuilding natural systems, these rules are further rolling back standards. There is nothing in the rules about resiliency or restoring natural systems like dunes and wetlands. There are no environmental standards for managing stormwater, to require green building codes or roofs, not to use tropical woods on boardwalks. There is nothing about restoration or limiting impervious cover. It is not about building better or smarter, it is about trying to rebuild the past and maybe elevate it. The concern is that this is not going to make us more resilient for the next storm.

"New Jersey is experiencing storm surges and sea level rise at an alarming rate. Instead of moving New Jersey forward to mitigate for those climate impacts, we are instead opening our coast up for more high density and intense development in these hazardous areas. These rules do not even mention sea level rise or climate change, let alone call for adapting or mitigating for those impacts," said Jeff Tittel.

There is a provisional permit that if you could lose funding before you get approvals you could start building. This was from the emergency rule and was kept.

 "Hurricane Sandy was a disaster that hit our coast, and these rules are a disaster. They will not only protect us from future storms and sea level rise, they are actually encouraging more growth in areas that were devastated. These rules take the side of developers over the environment and even sound science," said Jeff Tittel. "We have a chance to rebuild New Jersey smarter and better. Instead we are promoting sprawl and overdevelopment. We can protect our coast, clean up our storm water, restore natural systems, but instead we have rules and programs that will make things worse. We need rules that will protect our coast for future generations, but under these rules the Jersey Shore we all love may not be there."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 11:00 A.M.

Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve

Jacques Cousteau Coastal Education Center

130 Great Bay Blvd

Tuckerton, NJ 08087

Written comments may be submitted electronically by August 1, 2014 at

Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator
New Jersey Sierra Club
145 W. Hanover Street
Trenton, NJ 08618
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