Beach protection bills introduced

TRENTON – The devastation to the Jersey Shore caused by Superstorm Sandy has led to several bills being introduced to deal with restoration and future protection.

Among them are bills addressing issues of  master plans, permit exceptions, eminent domain compensation, and county beach control.

S2575/A3500:  This bill would require the Department of Environmental Protection  to prepare an update to the New Jersey Shore Protection Master Plan.  The state’s current plan was issued in October 1981.

S2599/A3889: This bill would mandate that just compensation be paid for beachfront property condemned for the purpose of acquiring an easement for dune construction.

The compensation must include consideration of the increase in value to the entire property due to the added safety and property protection provided by the dune, as well as any diminution in value to the property attributable to the condemnation.

S2601/A3891:  This bill would authorize counties of Atlantic, Monmouth, Ocean, and Cape May to assume the control over the operation and maintenance of the beaches.

According to the bill, a county might choose to do this in order to establish a uniform beach fee and beach tag system, to establish a uniform policy with respect to beach improvement, maintenance, and dune construction for the protection of properties near the beach, and to realize economies of scale by dealing with the maintenance of all of the beaches within the county through one entity. 

For bonding and budget purposes, the operation of the beaches would constitute a public utility of the county.  Revenues and expenditures of the county beach utility would be required to be reported in detail on the same Internet website that the county budget is published.  

The bill also provides counties that assume the control of beaches with an exception to the 2.5 percent cap on increases.

S2602/A3893: This bill repeals the section of law that granted the Commissioner of Environmental Protection the authority to waive the permit requirements of the “Coastal Area Facility Review Act” for any development that involves the grading or excavation of a dune by a governmental agency if the commissioner finds that such a waiver is warranted as a result of a storm, natural disaster or similar act of God. 

The Department of Environmental Protection has the authority to issue an emergency permit authorization if it determines that there is an imminent threat to lives or property. 

This emergency permit authorization allows the department to immediately authorize regulated activities, such as the grading or excavation of a dune.  This bill does not affect the department’s ability to provide emergency permit authorizations.

S2607: This bill would require the Department of Community Affairs to compile and post on its website an educational guide concerning the rebuilding of structures following a natural weather disaster. 

The guide must contain information and recommendations for property owners about the reconstruction of homes and commercial property damaged during a natural weather disaster, so that those properties will be less vulnerable to damage caused by hurricanes, other wind storms, and flooding, during future natural weather disasters. 

  Beach protection bills introduced