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Contact: Amy Cradic

DEP Fines Property Owner $50,000 for Illegal Waterfront Development

(03/68) TRENTON – Immediately ceasing further construction activities on two waterfront lots in Upper Township, Cape May County, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) fined a private landowner for the unauthorized development of a single family dwelling and septic field.

The unpermitted development, owned by Joseph Marley, occurred in specially regulated lands under the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA), including a coastal high hazard area, an erosion hazard area, a barrier island corridor and an overwash area. The property is located at 1604 Commonwealth Avenue and the illegal activities impacted 4,000 square feet of waterfront property.

"Mr. Marley knowingly bypassed development permits that protect coastal natural resources and the safety of those who chose to reside along New Jersey's shores," said Commissioner Bradley Campbell. "Unchecked waterfront development can destroy vital wildlife habitat, increase water pollution, and in some cases cause personal injury or the loss of property from coastal storms, erosion, and flooding."

Prior to building the illegal dwelling on the two adjacent lots, Mr. Marley contacted the DEP and submitted a proposed plan to expand an existing dwelling to be located on the non-waterward side of the property. Because the proposed expansion would not exceed 400 square feet and was not proposed on a beach, dune, and/or wetland, the DEP informed Mr. Marley that no CAFRA permit was required.

In addition, Mr. Marley's proposed expansion of the dwelling included a request for a new septic field. This proposed addition would require a CAFRA permit because it was not located within the 400-square-foot expansion area. In order to remain exempt from a CAFRA permit, the DEP informed Mr. Marley that an alternate 3,000-gallon holding tank for sewage discharge located under the dwelling would be required.

A site inspection conducted by the DEP on February 21, 2003 revealed that the original pre-existing single family residence proposed for expansion had been voluntarily demolished and a new, single family home had been constructed outside the original footprint. Further, the site inspection revealed that a septic field was under construction instead of the required holding tank, and the DEP issued a stop-work directive. A follow-up inspection revealed that the DEP directive to cease development of the septic field was ignored, and a second directive was issued.

In addition to the $50,000 penalty for CAFRA violations, the order requires that Mr. Marley submit to the department a CAFRA permit application for the new dwelling and submit a restoration plan to remove the septic field and restore the site to its pre-disturbance condition. The plan must be approved by the DEP. Mr. Marley has requested an administrative hearing.

The CAFRA law regulates almost all development activities involved in residential, commercial, or industrial development, including construction, relocation, and enlargement of buildings or structures; and all related work, such as excavation, grading, shore protection structures, and site preparation within the coastal zone.



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Last Updated: July 14, 2010