DEP PROPOSES SIMPLIFIED, 'ANTI-SPRAWL' COASTAL PROTECTION
State Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn today formally
proposed new coastal protection regulations that reflect policies
contained in the State Development and Redevelopment Plan. The
objectives of the State Plan include revitalizing urban areas,
protecting environmentally sensitive lands, and ensuring the
cost-effective provision of public services. The proposal also
provides a simplified, more predictable application and review process
for Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) permits.
"This initiative is a landmark in environmental protection and a major
step forward in giving communities the tools to decide wisely when
making crucial decisions about where to develop and what to preserve,"
said Governor Christie Whitman, who a year ago called on all state
agencies to incorporate the provisions of the State Plan in their
operations. "By promoting development where substantial development
already exists, these rules will help us curb sprawl and preserve open
"This proposal delineates areas where development has already
occurred, recognizes those areas as coastal centers where further
development is beneficial, and encourages municipalities to make land
use decisions based on data that more accurately reflects existing
environmental conditions," said Commissioner Shinn.
The proposed regulations recognize 102 existing centers in the coastal
region. Under the new rules, the department will adopt a streamlined
regulatory process, though, as is now the case, local ordinances can
still enforce more restrictive controls if desired. The rules are
also designed to work in concert with local, county and state planning
initiatives as reflected by the State Plan. Additional benefits will
also become available to those municipalities that seek formal State
Plan center designation through the State Planning Commission. These
benefits include priority funding for community development grants,
Green Acres grants and loans, infrastructure funding and technical
The regulations place coastal lands into five categories as defined
in the State Plan: urban, suburban, fringe, rural, and environmentally
sensitive areas. Each category has different limits on the amount of land
that can be built upon within a development site. As is already the case
by statute, projects involving fewer than 25 housing units or 50 commercial
parking spaces do not require a CAFRA permit, unless the site is within
150 feet of the coast. Each category also requires a certain amount of
vegetation on any parcel to be developed, to reduce stormwater runoff.
"The new rules will save time and money for landowners who want to
build, since the five planning area categories we are proposing will
help indicate at the front end of the regulatory process if the land
is suitable for development, eliminating the need for expensive, time
consuming engineering studies that had to be conducted in the past,"
The proposed regulatory changes do not affect individual lots for
"This has no bearing on individual shore homeowners, or those who
want to build a home on a single lot," Shinn stressed.
The Legislature amended the Coastal Area Facility Review Act in l993,
requiring DEP to "closely coordinate" its coastal permitting rules
with the State Plan. DEP's proposal has been reviewed by
environmental, government and industry officials and revised in
response to their comments and recommendations.
"This presents an opportunity for coastal municipalities to review
their land use plans and achieve greater consistency with county and
state land management objectives," said Stafford Township Mayor Carl
Block. "Ultimately, it will provide more incentives for achieving the
plans' revitalization goals."
The proposal, to be published in the New Jersey Register in December,
provides exemptions for public parks and aquaculture, and makes
allowances to facilitate clean-up and beneficial re-use of
contaminated sites. As an added benefit of coordinating with the
State Plan, projects within State Plan designated centers are exempt
from CAFRA landscaping requirements. The rule proposal also includes
revisions to the waterfront development permits regulations to make
them easier to understand, and to make them consistent in format,
terminology, and substance, with the new standards applicable to the
CAFRA area. Revision of the Waterfront Development Program rules to
make them consistent with the State Plan will follow the CAFRA
Public hearings on the proposal will be held January 14th, at 7 p.m.
in the court room/meeting room, Avalon Borough Hall, 3100 Dune Drive,
Avalon; January 11th at 7 p.m. in the Fine and Performing Arts Center
Auditorium, Cumberland County Community College, College Drive,
Vineland; January 13th at 9 a.m. in the first floor public hearing
room, DEP Headquarters, 40l E. State Street, Trenton; and January 6th
at 7 p.m. in Municipal Hall, Dover Township Municipal Complex, 33
Washington St., Toms River.
Written comments may be forwarded to Janis Hoagland, DEP Office of
Legal Affairs, P.O. Box 402, Trenton, NJ 08625, by February 8, 1999.
A copy of the proposal may be obtained by calling DEP at (609) 292-1254,
or visit the DEP website at http://www.state.nj.us/dep
Direct link to the Coastal (CAFRA) Rule page