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  • NJ A2642
  • Creates New Jersey Coastal Commission; reallocates certain funds from DEP to commission; and appropriates $20 million.
Introduced
(2/8/2016)
In Committee
(2/8/2016)
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill establishes a New Jersey Coastal Commission ("commission"), sets forth the commission's powers, and transfers to the commission certain functions now vested in the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) under various acts, including R.S.12:5-1 et seq. (the "waterfront development law"), "The Wetlands Act of 1970," the "Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act," the "Coastal Area Facility Review Act" (CAFRA), and the "Flood Hazard Area Control Act." The purpose of the bill is to promote the protection, preservation and restoration of a portion of the State's coastal area, designated as the "coastal commission area" by the bill, through comprehensive planning, regulation, and intergovernmental cooperation. The powers and responsibilities for achieving these objectives are assigned to a regional commission established by the bill, to be known as the New Jersey Coastal Commission. The coastal commission area comprises the area defined in CAFRA located within the counties of Atlantic, Cape May, Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex. For the purposes of this bill, the coastal commission area does not include that portion of the CAFRA region located in Burlington, Cumberland, and Salem counties. Section 4 of the bill establishes the commission as an instrumentality of the State exercising essential government functions, and allocates the commission to the DEP, but makes the commission independent of department supervision or control. The commission is to consist of 19 members, as follows: 10 residents of the counties of Atlantic, Cape May, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Ocean, of whom two from each county would be appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the respective county governing body, provided however that (a) no more than five are to be of the same political party and (b) five are to be municipal officials residing in the coastal commission area and holding elective office at the time of appointment and five are to be county officials holding elective office at the time of appointment; and nine residents of the State, of whom three are to be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, three are to be appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the President of the Senate, and three are to be appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the Speaker of the General Assembly. In addition, these nine members are to have, to the maximum extent practicable, demonstrated expertise and interest in coastal issues and be actively connected with, or have experience in: natural resources protection, environmental protection, water quality protection, agriculture, forestry, land use, or economic development. The members are to be appointed to the commission within 30 days after the date of enactment of the bill into law. In addition, the commission is directed to request the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Coast Guard, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to each appoint a representative to serve as an advisor to the commission. Actions taken by the commission and recorded in the minutes are be subject to review and approval or disapproval by the Governor. The commission is required to file annual reports on its activities with the Governor and the Legislature. Section 6 provides that the commission shall have jurisdiction within the coastal commission area for: (1) all planning activities and all approvals related to applications for development; (2) all activities related to land use permitting and approvals; (3) all beach erosion and shore protection projects undertaken or proposed to be undertaken; and (4) the oversight of disbursement and use of any federal monies received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or any other source related to reconstruction from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Section 6 further provides that the commission shall exercise its power to: (1) protect, preserve, and restore the environmental quality and natural resources of the New Jersey's coastal commission area, and, consistent with the protection and preservation thereof, maintain the long-term economic viability of the coastal commission area, and ensure public access to, and use or enjoyment of, the natural, scenic, recreation, and historic resources in the coastal commission area; (2) provide a comprehensive approach to protecting the environment by managing growth in the coastal commission area, noting regional differences and acting in close cooperation with local government units; (3) protect the ocean's renewable resources by acting to improve the quality of near coastal and estuary waters and coastal habitats; (4) preserve and promote the natural, scenic, recreation, and historic aspects of the coastal commission area; and (5) ensure that regulations governing the coastal commission area are understandable and provide for the widest public participation in the commission's decision making processes. Section 7 enumerates the extensive general powers and duties of the commission, which include but are not limited to: (1) appointing advisory boards, councils, or panels to assist in its activities, including but not limited to a municipal advisory council consisting of mayors, municipal council members, or other representatives of municipalities located in the coastal commission area; (2) soliciting and considering public input and comment on the commission's activities, the coastal management plan, and other issues and matters of importance in the coastal commission area by periodically holding public hearings or conferences and providing other opportunities for such input and comment by interested parties; (3) preparing and transmitting to the DEP Commissioner and the Legislature such recommendations for additional or more stringent water quality standards for surface and ground waters in the coastal commission area, or in tributaries and watersheds within or outside the coastal commission area and for other environmental protection standards pertaining to the lands and natural resources of the coastal commission area, as the commission deems appropriate; (4) identifying and designating areas within which development shall not occur in order to protect water resources and environmentally sensitive lands while recognizing the need to provide just compensation to the owners of those lands when appropriate, whether through acquisition, transfer of development rights programs, or other means or strategies; (5) identifying lands in which the public acquisition of a fee simple or lesser interest therein is necessary or desirable in order to ensure the preservation thereof, or to provide sites for public recreation; (6) developing model land use ordinances and other development regulations, for consideration and adoption by municipalities in the coastal commission area; (7) commenting upon any application for development before a local government unit, on the adoption of any master plan, development regulation, or other regulation by a local government unit, or on the enforcement by a local government unit of any development regulation or other regulation; (8) working with interested municipalities to enter into agreements to establish, where appropriate, capacity-based development densities, including, but not limited to, appropriate higher densities to support transit villages or in centers designated by the State Development and Redevelopment Plan; (9) promoting conservation of water resources and brownfield remediation and redevelopment in the coastal commission area; (10) adopting rules and regulations, pursuant to the provisions of the "Administrative Procedure Act," as may be necessary in order for the commission to exercise its powers and perform its duties and responsibilities, including the establishment of reasonable fees; (11) submitting annual reports to the Governor and Legislature; (12) auditing the actions of local government units as those actions relate to conformance with the coastal management plan required by section 8 of the bill; (13) considering any matter relating to the protection, maintenance, and restoration of coastal and ocean resources, including the coordination and development of a research agenda on ecosystem-based management; (14) reviewing any State project planned within the coastal commission area for conformance with the coastal management plan; and (15) coordinating with the State Office of Emergency Management, the USACOE, and FEMA to conduct and review any assessment of the damage, and any associated recovery efforts, caused by Hurricane Sandy or any other major storm event that impacts the coastal commission area. In addition, as set forth in the bill, the commission would be responsible in the coastal commission area for implementing State laws concerning land use and beach erosion and shore protection that are current the responsibility of the DEP. Section 8 requires, within nine months of its organizational meeting, and after public hearings in each county within the coastal commission area, the commission to adopt a coastal management plan. The plan is to be reviewed, revised, and readopted at least once every five years. The commission is to provide for maximum feasible local government and public participation in the plan's preparation, and consider input from federal, State, county and municipal entities in preparing the plan. The coastal management plan is to be closely coordinated with the provisions of the State Development and Redevelopment Plan, though exempt therefrom, and the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan. The goal of coastal management plan is to protect, preserve and, where practicable, restore, the natural resources and environmental qualities of the coastal commission area. Section 9 prescribes the main components of the coastal management plan, which include: (1) a comprehensive statement of policies for protecting coastal resources and managing development, including the channeling of development into areas already developed or having the infrastructure therefor, or areas where the infrastructure can be efficiently and economically provided; (2) a resource assessment that determines the types and amounts of development and other human activities that can be sustained by the coastal commission area ecosystems, and identifies natural, scenic, open space and outdoor recreation resources of the coastal commission area, and the public policies required to maintain or restore these resources; (3) a land use capability component for designating growth areas and special land use areas; (4) identification of land and water protection and management techniques and other mechanisms that could be utilized by State, regional and local governmental entities to effectuate the policies and purposes of the coastal management plan; (5) a reference guide of technical planning standards and guidelines use in preparing the coastal management plan; (6) regional planning standards and guidelines for transportation, housing and other land uses, and for effectuating intergovernmental coordination; (7) a public access and use component; (8) a five-year coastal commission area capital improvement program; and (9) a financial component detailing the cost of implementing the coastal management plan and the revenue sources therefor. Section 10 requires preparation of the coastal management plan to include an infrastructure needs assessment, a research needs assessment, and a natural resources inventory. The commission is also required to conduct, or cooperate in the conduct of, research on the health and environmental effects of water quality. Section 11 requires all State, regional, county and municipal government entities to comply with the coastal management plan. The commission is to establish, consistent with the coastal management plan, minimum standards for the adoption and revision, as applicable, of municipal and county master plans, development regulations and capital improvement programs. Within six months after the adoption or readoption of the coastal management plan, each county and municipality in the coastal commission area is required to submit, as applicable, its master plan, development regulations, and capital improvement program to the commission for a determination as to whether the plan, regulations and program are in conformity with the coastal management plan. The commission is also directed to audit the actions of affected counties and municipalities to determine if they conform to the coastal management plan. The bill sets forth criteria for determining, and the implications of, county or municipal nonconformance with the coastal management plan. The commission is also directed to develop a coordination and consistency plan for achieving intergovernmental coordination of policies and programs to promote the policies and goals of the coastal management plan, and for integrating into the plan land, water and structures managed in the public interest by governmental or nongovernmental entities. Section 11 further provides that no approval, as defined by the "Permit Extension Act of 2008," P.L.2008, c.78 (C.40:55D-136.1 et seq.), within the coastal commission area shall be automatically extended or tolled by that act. Section 12 creates four regional advisory councils for the purpose of advising the commission in all of its actions, including but not limited to, the development of the coastal management plan, project priority lists, other plans, rules and regulations, and any other matter referred to the councils by the commission. Sections 13 through 21 transfers to the commission, from the Department of Environmental Protection, the primary authority within the coastal commission area for the issuance of permits, approvals or other authorizations pursuant to R.S.12:5-1 et seq. (commonly referred to as the "waterfront development law"), "The Wetlands Act of 1970" (commonly referred to as the "coastal wetlands act"), the "Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act," the "Coastal Area Facility Review Act" (commonly referred to as "CAFRA"), and the "Flood Hazard Area Control Act." The commission may develop a single permitting process and issue a coastal environmental land use permit for proposed developments in the coastal commission area, but the review would remain subject to the separate provisions of each law applicable thereto, except as otherwise provided in this bill. Section 22 provides that the commission shall be responsible for all beach erosion and shore protection projects undertaken or proposed to be undertaken within the coastal commission area. The primary authority for shore protection activities pursuant to the following statutes, currently the responsibility of the DEP, would be transferred to the commission for the coastal commission area: P.L.1940, c.52 (C.12:6A-1 et seq.) (concerning beach erosion and shore protection projects); P.L.1992, c.148 (C.13:19-16.1 et al.) (i.e., the Shore Protection Fund); P.L.1997, c.384 (C.13:19-16.2) (priority list for shore protection projects); P.L.1995, c.19 (C.13:19-31 et seq.) (eligibility requirements for federal monies related to shore protection programs and disaster aid), and the "Shore Protection Bond Act of 1983," P.L.1983, c.356. In addition, section 22: authorizes the commission to prepare and update a priority list for beach erosion or shore protection projects eligible for financial assistance from the commission, the State, or federal government entities; provides that the commission may undertake a beach erosion or shore protection project in a joint venture with a federal, State or local government unit, with the commission providing financial, technical or managerial assistance to the venture; and grants the commission the power of eminent domain for the purposes of acquiring lands necessary for a beach erosion or shore protection project. Section 23 of the bill requires the DEP Commissioner to transfer any staff employed by the DEP specifically for, or related to, the administration and enforcement of statutes concerning land use permitting and beach erosion and shore protection activities in the coastal commission area to the New Jersey Coastal Commission for the purposes of implementing the provisions of this bill. Section 24 requires the State Treasurer to reallocate any State funds appropriated to the DEP specifically for, or related, to the administration and enforcement of various listed statutes concerning land use permitting and beach erosion and shore protection activities in the coastal commission area to the New Jersey Coastal Commission for the purposes of implementing the provisions of this bill upon enactment into law. Section 25 of the bill provides that the commission shall be responsible for the dissemination, administration, and oversight of any monies received from FEMA or any other source related to disaster assistance or recovery from the impacts of Hurricane Sandy or other major storm event within the coastal commission area. The remaining sections of the bill amend current law to reflect creation of the New Jersey Coastal Commission. Sections 26 through 29 amend current law to transfer to the commission jurisdiction over waterfront and harbor facilities, navigable waters in the coastal commission area, and authority to repair, construct, or reconstruct bulkheads, seawalls, breakwaters, groins, jetties, beachfills, dunes and other appurtenant structures within the coastal commission area. Section 30 amends subsection w. of section 12 of P.L.1970, c.33 (C.13:1D-9), which grants the DEP the authority to conduct research and implement plans and programs to promote ecosystem-based management, to add the definition of "ecosystem-based management" currently contained in P.L.2007, c.288 (C.13:19-34 et seq.) which is a statute that would be repealed upon the enactment of the bill into law. Section 31 amends section 1 of P.L.1975, c.232 (C.13:1D-29) (commonly referred to as the "90 Day Law") to provide that the definition of "construction permit" does not include any development, regulated activity, permit or approval within the coastal commission area and under the jurisdiction of the commission. Section 32 amends CAFRA to delete the exemption from CAFRA permitting requirements pertaining to the reconstruction of any development that is damaged or destroyed, in whole or in part, by fire, storm, natural hazard or act of God. Current law provides that such reconstruction does not require a CAFRA permit from the DEP, provided that the reconstruction is in compliance with existing requirements or codes of municipal, State, and federal law. This bill deletes this exemption, thus a permit would be required from the commission for reconstruction if the development is subject to the regulatory thresholds of CAFRA. This change would apply throughout the CAFRA area, not just within the coastal commission area. Sections 33 through 35, 42 and 43 of the bill amend existing law concerning the Shore Protection Fund and beach erosion and shore protection projects. Sections 36 through 41 of the bill amend the "New Jersey Adopt a Beach Act," P.L.1992, c.213 (C.13:19-22 et seq.) to reflect the establishment of the New Jersey Coastal Commission. Section 44 amends the duties of the State Mosquito Control Commission to reflect the establishment of the New Jersey Coastal Commission. Section 45 amends P.L.1993, c.168, the law that established the coastal protection license plate program, to reflect the establishment of the New Jersey Coastal Commission. Section 46 exempts the commission's coastal management plan from the State Development and Redevelopment Plan. Section 47 amends the law concerning the adoption of the Uniform Construction Code to direct the Commissioner of Community Affairs, when adopting the code or any subcode thereof, to consult with the New Jersey Coastal Commission to determine whether the code or subcode should include any specific provisions or considerations for the purpose of regulating the structural design, construction, maintenance and use of buildings or structures to be erected, and the alteration, renovation, rehabilitation, repair, maintenance, removal, or demolition of buildings or structures already erected, within the coastal commission area. Section 48 repeals P.L.2007, c.288 (C.13:19-34 et seq.) (which establishes the "New Jersey Coastal and Ocean Protection Council") and the "Public Access and Marina Safety Task Force Act," P.L.2008, c.82 (C.13:19-38 et seq.). The commission established by this bill would essentially assume the duties of the New Jersey Coastal and Ocean Protection Council to consider any matter relating to the protection, maintenance, and restoration of coastal and ocean resources, including the coordination and development of a research agenda on ecosystem-based management. The coastal management plan to be developed pursuant to this bill would include policies to provide for the protection, maintenance, and restoration of healthy coastal and ocean ecosystems, and incorporate ecosystem-based management approaches. The "Public Access and Marina Safety Task Force Act" established a moratorium on the implementation of certain "public access" rules of the DEP. That moratorium expired on December 31, 2010. Section 49 of the bill appropriates $20 million from the General Fund to the commission for the purposes of this bill, including for providing grants and other financial assistance to municipalities and counties for any revision of their master plans, development regulations, or other regulations which is designed to bring those plans, development regulations, or other regulations into conformance with the coastal management plan. Lastly, sections 13 through 29, and sections 31 through 47, inclusive, (i.e., the sections of the bill that transfer responsibilities from the DEP to the new commission and amend current law to reflect the establishment of the new commission) would take effect on the 30th day following the date of enactment of the bill into law, and the remainder of the bill would take effect immediately.
Environment and Solid Waste
Introduced, Referred to Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee  (on 2/8/2016)
 
 

Date Chamber Action Description
2/8/2016 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
None specified