NJ DEPARTMENT of ENVIRONMENTAL
LAND USE MANAGEMENT
WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Notice of Rule Proposal
Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:13
Coastal Zone Management Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7E
Stormwater Management Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:8
Proposed amendments, repeals, and new rules
Take notice that the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (Department) is proposing comprehensive amendments to the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden, add appropriate flexibility, provide better consistency with Federal, local, and other State requirements, and address implementation issues identified since the chapter’s repeal and repromulgation in November 2007. This rulemaking is part of the Department’s effort to transform the operations of the Division of Land Use Regulation in order to better prioritize and refocus permitting efforts on activities that are most likely to exacerbate flooding or pose risk to the environment.
The proposal provides guidance and clarity regarding the location and applicability of riparian zones and incorporates additional flexibility for projects situated within riparian zones. The proposal adjusts the area of riparian zone disturbance that can be authorized under an individual permit and incorporates provisions for activities that can currently be authorized only under a hardship exception. Incentives are incorporated to encourage development to be situated further from regulated waters and within actively disturbed areas such as lawns, agricultural fields, and road right-of-ways, rather than in undisturbed riparian zones. The proposal also provides additional options for riparian zone compensation, which mirror the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act rules and proposed Coastal rules, and facilitates the restoration of impaired riparian zones, such as “daylighting” streams by removing culverts that enclose them. The proposal consolidates the Special Water Resource Protection Area and 300-foot riparian zone into a hybrid buffer with predictable standards that will apply to a uniform set of surface waters, thereby better protecting the State’s most ecologically sensitive streams and rivers. The proposal additionally eliminates duplicative requirements that are enforced by local Soil Conservation Districts in areas that possess acid-producing soil deposits. As a result, the riparian zone along regulated waters flowing through areas possessing these deposits will be reduced from 150 feet to 50 feet. The proposal also amends requirements for the placement of stormwater discharges within riparian zones in order to address concerns raised by local Soil Conservation Districts regarding downstream erosion.
With this proposal, and through pending rulemaking to consolidate and amend the Coastal Permit Program rules and the Coastal Zone Management rules, as well as through anticipated rulemaking to amend the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act rules, the Department intends to align the rules governing the permitting processes of all three programs to the extent the respective enabling statutes allow. Under this proposal, the effort to align the permitting process includes emergency authorizations, pre-application conferences, application requirements, requirements for an applicant to provide public notice, application review, permit conditions and changes to issued permits, and requests for adjudicatory hearings. The proposal also incorporates the provisions of the Environmental Enforcement Enhancement Act.
In an effort to streamline the flood hazard area permitting process, six existing general permits are proposed to be converted to general permits-by-certification which are approvals that can be obtained by completing application requirements online, and four existing general permits are proposed to be converted to permits-by-rule. In total, the proposal includes nine new general permits, 15 new general permits-by-certification, and 19 new permits-by-rule. Changes are also proposed to the permit review process, including review times applicable to certain applications. The proposal also includes amendments to facilitate certain projects such as minor road widening and bridge or culvert replacement projects, clarify various rule requirements, identify which flood events must be analyzed for certain projects, and encourage the preservation and creation of terrestrial crossings under bridges and within culverts. The proposal also provides additional guidance on the types of calculations that can be used to determine the floodway and flood fringe limits and proposes changes to verifications available under the rules.
The proposal is scheduled to be published in the New Jersey Register dated June 1, 2015. A copy of the proposal is available at (http://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/proposals/20150601a.pdf) and from LexisNexis free public access to the New Jersey Register, www.lexisnexis.com/njoal.
Public hearings concerning the proposal are scheduled as follows:
Monday, June 22, 2015, 10:00am
NJ Department of Environment Protection
Public Hearing Room
401 East State Street
Trenton, NJ 08060
Thursday, June 25, 2015, 5:00 P.M.
City of Long Branch Municipal Building
344 Broadway, 2nd Floor
Long Branch, NJ 07740
Written comments may be submitted electronically by July 31, 2015 at http://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/comments; or in hard copy to:
Gary J. Brower, Esq.
ATTN: DEP Docket No. 05-15-04
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Office of Legal Affairs
Mail Code 401-04L; PO Box 402
401 East State Street, 7th Floor
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402