As Craven Legislators Push Permit Extension Act, new documents reveal that Builders have made similar headway in securing DEP Flood Prevention and Stream Buffer Protection Loopholes
Trenton — After weeks of denial, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has quietly admitted that they created large loopholes in the recently adopted Flood Hazard regulations and the highly touted buffer requirements for exceptional water quality streams, according to agency documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result, hundreds of projects will be grandfathered from the protections of the new Flood Hazard rules and “Category One” or C1 requirements of 300-foot stream buffers around sensitive rivers and lakes.
“These concessions will greatly worsen flooding and water quality problems that both Governor Corzine and DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson allegedly have made a priority and pledged to combat,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe, a former DEP analyst. “You can’t have an effective safety net if you keep carving holes in it.”
In June 2006 Governor Corzine was touring flooded areas by helicopter and declaring flood prevention a high priority. Similarly, Jackson defended strong DEP flood protection rules just last March 24, saying:
“Building affordable housing there [in flood zones] would be morally wrong.”
Nonetheless, new rules officially published just yesterday in the New Jersey Register enact gaping loopholes that would grandfather hundreds of projects that had previously obtained DEP permits or local land use approvals, as well as exemptions for pending projects.
Moreover, the Flood Hazard grandfather loophole is far larger in scope because these rules apply statewide to all streams including urbanized watersheds, while the C1 buffers only apply to a very small subset of waterways. A new “Fact Sheet” posted on the DEP website confirms both types of loopholes.
The central concept of the Flood Hazard or “stream encroachment” rules is to keep human development out of areas with high risks of inundation. These rules were strengthened on November 5, 2007.
“Keeping people from building in flood zones just makes common sense; consequently making all of these exceptions serves no one’s interests but the developers,” Wolfe added, pointing to recent devastating floods in New Jersey which gave rise to the rules. “The disheartening pattern is that DEP unveils a package of new protections with great fanfare and then allows legal termites to gnaw a maze of loopholes through the whole package.”
ee the new DEP Fact Sheet with grandfather descriptions at the end
Read the June 29, 2006 press release from Governor Corzine on flooding
View the new grandfather escape hatches
Decipher the convoluted rationale for Flood Hazard exemptions
Look at the growing danger of floods in New Jersey
Examine the state Flood Hazard rules
New Jersey PEER is a state chapter of a national alliance of state and federal agency resource professionals working to ensure environmental ethics and government accountability

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  1. unprovincial
    June 18th, 2008 at 22:33 | #1

    Not unexpected. Developers aren’t about to let go of that prize real estate, floods or no floods. Once those buildings are built and they have their money, why should they care? And they are pulliing the strings in Trenton these days. Even Corzine isn’t so rich that he doesn’t need their help……….esp. with his approval rating in the toilet.

  2. eyesofsussex
    June 19th, 2008 at 22:02 | #2

    Publish the names of the developers and the sponsors of the bill in the same article…..just like they do with the prostitutes and their customers.

  3. enviroman320
    June 20th, 2008 at 00:16 | #3

    Sorry Bill, I never understand your rhetoric.
    Why is there a 300 foot buffer surrounding a channel that is at an elevation 100 feet above a stream? The second a drop of water hits the channel it is on its way down the hill. During what storm would that channel at that elevation ever flood necessitating a 300 foot “flood-zone” buffer?
    Also, because I’m sure you’ll say it causes flooding downstream, under stormwater management regulations properties going through the approval process must either meet or better flows under several “hypothetical” storms. That means after a property is developed there is either exactly the same or less flowing of water off the property during those storms reducing downstream flooding. That’s why there are detention basis, to reduce the flow of water. That also means that wetlands, which I’m sure you’ll come back with and say are what presents flooding, have to be included in those calculations since that water wasn’t flowing off the property pre-development and therefore cannot flow off post-development. How then does that increase flooding? According to your logic every property in New Jersey should be developed to prevent flooding.

  1. January 19th, 2012 at 15:47 | #1
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