New Jersey Streamlines Rebuilding Permitting Process

New rules designed to save time and reduce fees on Superstorm Sandy rebuilding projects.

July 15, 2013
CDR Staff
Legislation & Regulations

The state of New Jersey has formally adopted rules designed to streamline Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permits for various rebuilding projects. The decision follows the state’s attempt to rebuild from Superstorm Sandy.

The action will aid reconstruction of effected homes and businesses, assist the recovery of marinas and shellfish industries, help make coastal areas more resilient to future storms and expedite dredging of storm-effected private lagoons and marinas, the DEP says.

The changes to the coastal rules eliminate unnecessary red tape by enabling various types of projects to proceed under less cumbersome permit procedures, including permits by rule and general permits, the DEP says. At the same time, the changes will not compromise protection of coastal resources and will help ensure the New Jersey coastline is more resiliant.

"These common sense rule changes eliminate unnecessary red tape that would needlessly impede the important work of rebuilding while ensuring continued protection of our important natural resources," says Bob Martin, DEP commissioner.

In addition to significantly reducing the time needed for DEP reviews, the changes, which the DEP initially adopted on an emergency basis April 16, 2013, also save property owners fees and costs associated with more complex permit requirements.

The activities regulated by the simplified permit processes are for reconstruction activities on roughly the same footprint or involve minimal (up to 400 square feet) expansion.

Specifically, the rules enhance coastal protection by:

  • Allowing maintenance of engineered beaches and dunes to federal project design levels through an individual coastal permit;
  • Allowing for projects that create living shorelines through a general permit (Living shorelines utilize strategic placement of native vegetation, sand, organic materials and/or bivalves such as oysters, clams and mussels to reinforce shorelines and prevent flooding naturally.);  
  • Establishing a permit by rule for placement of sand to help create and stabilize dunes; and
  • Allowing for the removal of sand from underneath boardwalks through beach and dune maintenance general permit.

 The rules expedite the rebuilding of residential and commercial structures by:

  • Providing for a permit by rule for reconstruction of damaged residential or commercial structures in upland waterfront development areas that are outside the CAFRA (Coastal Area Facility Review Act) zone, primarily Raritan Bay and the Newark-New York Harbor complex;  
  • Helping property owners make their buildings safer when feasible by changing the current general permit requirement to a permit by rule for lateral or landward relocation of the existing footprint of a structure; and
  • Eliminating the need for a permit to elevate a bulkhead, dock or pier as part of repair, replacement or reconstruction, as long as this is done in the existing footprint and not over wetlands.  

The rules also provide flexibility to allow marinas and other small businesses to enhance their operations without coming to DEP by:

  • Changing current individual permits to permits by rule to allow marinas to reconfigure docks, wharfs and piers within their existing leased areas;
  • Allowing a permit by rule for construction or installation of boat pump-out facilities; and
  • Changing current individual permit requirements to a general permit to allow for construction of support facilities.

The rules also contain provisions to aid the recovery of the shellfish/aquaculture industry by:

  • Allowing for a permit by rule for placement of certain land-based structures instead of an individual permit;
  • Allowing for a permit by rule for placement of predator screens, shellfish cages and other minor activities; and
  • Establishing a general permit for various commercial aquaculture activities, such as placement of shell.

Finally, the rules expedite dredging after a storm event for which the governor has declared a State of Emergency, by:

  • Allowing general permits instead of individual permits for dredging of man-made lagoons impacted by storm events;
  • Replacing individual permits with general permits for removal of sand and other material deposited in the water as a result of bulkheads damaged by storms;
  • Allowing general permits instead of individual permits for dredging of marina basins to removal materials deposited by storm events; and
  • Eliminating the requirement for a CAFRA permit for rehabilitation and use of existing dredged material management areas within the same footprint.

 A copy of full rule and response to public comments is available at