Christie Administration Proposes 'Streamlined' Coastal Permitting Rules

Environmentalist questions relaxing some permitting rules

Barnegat Bay from Ortley Beach (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Barnegat Bay from Ortley Beach (Photo: Daniel Nee)
The state Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday said it would recommend technical revisions to land use rules for coastal areas, streamlining the process for projects such as marina expansions, small dredging projects and residential home construction to receive permission to build near waterways and wetlands.

While the administration said in a statement that the move to cut red tape would "maintain New Jersey's high standards for protection of natural resources," the leader of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club quickly came out against the proposal.

"This is the first major revision and rewriting of the rules since Hurricane Sandy," said Jeff Tittel, the Sierra Club's director. "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."

Tittel lamented the absence of the consideration for climate change or sea level rise in the rule proposal.

"New Jersey has not only seen the devastation from Hurricane Sandy, but we are experiencing storm surges and sea level rise at an alarming rate," he said. "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."

But the administration said the streamlined rules keep current protections in place while removing redundancies by combining the Coastal Zone Management rules and Coastal Permit Program rules, in order to align them "more seamlessly" with flood hazard area and freshwater wetlands programs.

"These revisions will add clarity to our regulatory processes and provide better predictability in the regulatory process to our constituents by eliminating unnecessary red tape," DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said in a statement. "But they will not in any way affect our primary mission of protecting the natural resources that make our coastal areas such a wonderful place for living, working and enjoying."

A 60-day public comment period will run through Aug. 1, 2014. Members of the public may submit comments electronically at http://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/comments. The DEP has also scheduled several meetings, including one in Ocean County, set for July 9 at 11 a.m. at the Jacques Cousteau Coastal Education Center in Tuckerton.

A full copy of the rules can be found online.

Resident of Lacey June 11, 2014 at 12:42 PM
Oh! Leo-bot is not going to like what happens next.
MIC June 11, 2014 at 01:51 PM
Bad use of terms - "New Jersey has not only seen the devastation from Hurricane Sandy, but we are experiencing storm surges and sea level rise at an alarming rate," he said.
makemyday June 11, 2014 at 02:13 PM
@martin believes that msnbc Chris Matthews is the best journalist of our day. He also still thinks Benghazi was still the result of a YouTube video. Keep watching msnbc, Martin, they need you to keep their viewership up.
Rick Ricky June 11, 2014 at 05:54 PM
Why are you fighting over a bunch of scumbag politicians who is ruining the country, states and towns? None of them are good. They want you to see their views. None of them are good either. Both sides, stations are corrupt.
Brandy the Dog June 11, 2014 at 10:05 PM
Didn't Chris Matthews say he got a chubby listening to Obama speak?


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