New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Proposes New Rules Aimed at Streamlining Coastal Permitting Process

On June 10, 2014, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) introduced a series of proposed technical revisions to land use rules — via a 1,055 page proposal — designed to encourage redevelopment in coastal areas decimated by Hurricane Sandy. DEP Commissioner Bob Martin — who also served on Governor Christie’s Red Tape Review Commission, which was launched in 2011 to streamline regulatory processes across state government — explained that “[t]hese revisions will add clarity to our regulatory processes and provide better predictability in the regulatory process.”

One of the most significant developments that would flow from the NJDEP’s proposed revisions is the consolidation of the New Jersey Administrative Code’s Coastal Permit Program Rules (at N.J.A.C. 7:7) and Coastal Zone Management Rules (at N.J.A.C. 7:7E) — which are presently both relied on by the NJDEP to implement three separate New Jersey laws governing the use and development of the State’s coastal resources, namely: (1) the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA), N.J.S.A. 13:19-1 et seq.; (2) the Wetlands Act of 1970, N.J.S.A. 13:9A-1 et seq.; and (3) the Waterfront Development Law, N.J.S.A. 12:5-1 et seq. — into one chapter of the Administrative Code (at N.J.A.C. 7.7).

In addition, the DEP’s proposed revisions appear poised to streamline the administrative hurdles for marina expansions, small dredging projects, and residential home construction near waterways and wetlands. The proposal also aims to further consistency in the DEP’s separate mitigation requirements for freshwater wetlands and coastal wetlands.

Public comments on the current proposal will be accepted through August 1, 2014, and three public hearings on the proposed rules are scheduled to occur in Long Branch, Trenton, and Tuckerton, New Jersey on June 25, June 26, and July 9, 2014, respectively. Presently, the DEP appears poised to adopt these rules without issue, but has declined to offer any timetable for formal adoption of the proposal.

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