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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: 11/9/98
98/144
CONTACT: Amy Collings or Loretta O'Donnell
(609) 984-1795 or (609) 292-2994

DEP PROPOSES SIMPLIFIED, 'ANTI-SPRAWL' COASTAL PROTECTION RULES

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 space."

"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 assistance.

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," said Shinn.

The proposed regulatory changes do not affect individual lots for shore residences.

"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 rulemaking process.

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

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