Senate panel releases bill allowing county control of beaches

TRENTON – The Senate Environment and Energy Committee released two more bills this morning dealing with post-Superstorm Sandy rebuilding efforts. 

S2601: This bill would allow the counties of Atlantic, Monmouth, Ocean, and Cape May to assume responsibility for maintenance of the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean on their borders. It passed 4-0-1.

This would grant those counties exceptions to the cap on tax hikes.

Counties might choose such local control in order to have uniform beach fees, for instance, and they could operate as a public utility for bond purposes.

Sen. Jennifer Beck said she would abstain for now because Monmouth and Ocean oppose it, and she wants a chance to hear freeholders’ concerns first; she had planned to support it.

S2602: This would repeal the law providing exceptions to permit requirements regarding dune work. DEP can issue emergency permits if it determines there is a threat to lives or property if emergency work isn’t done. It passed 3-2 along party lines.

Sen. Jennifer Beck opposed this one because she said storm-damaged vulnerable towns will find this an obstacle to rebuilding. “Why would we want to get in the way of progress?,’’ she said, especially with the summer season approaching.

But the Sierra Club argued DEP grants exceptions to necessary rules all too often. 

Earlier story:

Senate panel OKs bill dealing with new FEMA heights

 

Senate panel releases bill allowing county control of beaches