In light of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has identified a number of activities that residents and businesses can undertake without the need to obtain a permit from NJDEP. In summary, NJDEP has announced that you do not need a permit:
- to make repairs such as replacing siding, windows or roofs;
- to reconstruct any legal structure destroyed in the storm so long as it is replaced in the same footprint and is not enlarged (although in more northern areas of the state regulated by the Waterfront Development Act, these limits may be relaxed if the structure is more than 100 feet from tide waters);
- to clean up and remove debris;
- to make emergency repairs to bridges, roads or other public structures and facilities; and
- to conduct various beach and dune activities, if you already have a beach and dune maintenance permit.
Even if your project is not exempt from permitting under these criteria, you may qualify for an emergency permit under certain conditions.
Notwithstanding the flexibility reflected in these principles, site-specific circumstances may require permits or may raise other complications. For example, a project may be exempt from NJDEP permitting but could still require local land use board approvals due to local ordinances that require new approvals when most of a pre-existing, non-conforming structure is destroyed. In addition, in some cases, it might be difficult or impossible to replace the structure in the same footprint or at the same size and therefore State permits would be required. Finally, many landowners along tidal waters own interest in lands under those waters pursuant to the State’s Tidelands program. The scope of those rights may be altered by changes to the land caused by the storm, so it would be important to have these issues clarified, because they affect your title to the property.
For more information on NJDEP’s regulatory response to Hurricane Sandy, go to www.nj.gov/dep/special/hurricane-sandy.