Super Storm Sandy Environmental Law Update

May 17, 2013 | No Comments
Posted by Steven J. Corodemus

The impact of Super Storm Sandy will be felt for many years.  The New Jersey State Legislature appears eager to share the stage of leadership with Governor Christie by enacting new laws to assist in recovery efforts but also to plan for the future.

NJ DEP adopted emergency regulations to facilitate shore rebuilding as previously reported on April 22nd’s Environmental Law Blog by Michael Gross, Chairman of the Environmental Law Department. See http://njenvironmentlaw.com/emergency-coastal-regulations-issued-by-njdep

On April 25, 2013 the NJ State Senate Environment Committee (SEN) passed a package of “Sandy” bills. Unfortunately the Assembly Environment Committee (AEN) took up only two of the bills at its May 13th meeting.

S2598 (Smith/Whelan) Passed SEN 5-0 & AEN 6-0.  Flood elevation standards.  Creates limited exemption from local land use restrictions to allow existing structures to be raised to new FEMA base flood elevations.

S2599 (Whelan/Greenstein)  Condemned beach front. Passed SEN 5-0.  Requires consideration of increased value due to dune construction in determining compensation provided for condemned beachfront property.  Is this a preemptive effort to combat the NJ Supreme Court decision in the Harvey Cedar’s case to determine whether homeowners should be paid for their lost oceanfront views due to dune construction?

S2600 (Whelan) Shore protection priority list criteria.  Passed SEN 4-1 & AEN 4-1.  Establishes criteria and requirements, including public meetings, for shore protection project priority list and funding from shore protection fund.  This bill may meet Governor Christie’s red veto pen if it reaches his desk as unnecessary additional bureaucracy.

S2601 (Smith) Atlantic Ocean beaches.  Passed SEN 4-0.  Permits the Republican majority counties of Monmouth, Ocean and Cape May to assume control and responsibility for operation and maintenance of beaches bordering the Atlantic Ocean.  Thanks but no thanks.  This bill is an improvement over the perennial bills requiring the State of NJ to assume control.  This is a good bill to foment controversy between home rule and county freeholders.

S2602  (Smith) Dune excavation.  Passed SEN 3-2.  Permits grading or excavation of dunes without emergency CAFRA permits.  This bill could help facilitate quick response to anticipated storms.

S2680 (Sacco/Kyrillos) Piers allows development.  Passed SEN 5-0.  This amended bill would permit existing piers on the Hudson River to be developed for residential purposes.  The recent adoption of the FEMA advisory base flood elevation maps by Governor Christie’s executive order put many piers in the “V” zone and now conflicts with decade old NJ DEP regulations.  New development or redevelopment into residences would still have to meet the base flood elevation requirements and all other laws.

These bills and other proposed legislation are being tracked by the Environmental Law Department and Government Affairs Department of this law firm for its clients, the business community and interested parties in the State of New Jersey.

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