DEP Coastal Centers Expiring

September 4, 2015 | No Comments
Posted by Steven M. Dalton

As of December 31, 2015, coastal centers established by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) and classified as “mainland” coastal centers will expire absent legislative or administrative action to make mainland coastal centers a permanent designation or to extend their expiration date.  DEP mainland coastal centers include Egg Harbor, Lower Township, Toms River and Lakewood.  DEP “non-mainland” coastal centers for areas located in the barrier islands will remain in effect after December 31, 2015.

The State Planning Commission adopted amended regulations effective August 21, 2015 to extend the period of approval of plan endorsements and center designations for three years beyond their otherwise applicable expiration date.  This action was taken to account for the looming expiration of the Permit Extension Act (“PEA”).  Designated centers that currently remain effective only by operation of law under the PEA have been extended for an additional 3 years until December 31, 2018 based on the recent State Planning Commission action.  The State Planning Commission eliminates any uncertainty as to the continued validity and effect of “CAFRA centers” under DEP’s Coastal Rules, as CAFRA centers are based upon State Planning Commission designated centers.  Coastal centers, in contrast to CAFRA centers, were created by DEP and have not been designated as centers through the State Planning Commission Plan Endorsement process.  Accordingly, coastal centers are not affected by the recent State Planning Commission regulatory action to extend the expiration date of designated centers and under DEP’s rules, non-mainland coastal centers are set to expire December 31, 2015.

The expiration of mainland coastal centers will significantly reduce the amount of allowable impervious cover available for development of sites in mainland coastal centers that are subject to CAFRA permitting.  Sites in mainland coastal centers have an impervious cover allowance of up to 80% under CAFRA regulations.  If the mainland coastal center designation expires, impervious cover limits would be based upon the planning area designation of a parcel with impervious cover percentages dropping to a range of 3% to 30%.


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