Sacco Bill To Allow Residential And Commercial Development On Coastal Piers Clears Senate

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Nicholas J. Sacco, D-Hudson and Bergen, speaks on the floor of the Senate.

Measure To Help Spur Economic Recovery On Existing Piers In Urban Municipalities

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nicholas J. Sacco that would allow residential and commercial development – including hotels, motels, and mixed use properties – on existing piers over large rivers located in urban municipalities was approved today by the full Senate.

“Coastal communities in New Jersey, including those along the Jersey shore and the Hudson River, have been hit with devastating economic losses following Hurricane Sandy,” said Senator Sacco, D-Hudson and Bergen. “Blocking the development of new residential and commercial property in these areas would cause great harm to local businesses, and hinder the vast recovery efforts that we have seen so far. By allowing new developments to proceed on existing piers, this measure will bring a significant boost to coastal areas and help spur the creation of new jobs and businesses.”

The bill, S-2680, would require that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permit development on piers in coastal high hazard areas – defined as flood prone areas subject to high velocity waves (V zones) as delineated on FEMA flood insurance maps or areas within 25 feet of oceanfront shore protection structures that are subject to wave run-up and overtopping. Currently, this type of development is prohibited by DEP outside of Atlantic City. Provisions of the bill would apply only to piers in existence on the effective date of the bill. Under the legislation, DEP rules and regulations, as well as other laws pertaining to waterfront development, would still be applicable.

In December, the federal government released a revised set of FEMA maps, issuing flood-prone designations to many more homes and properties, like those in coastal high hazard areas where properties are considered to be at risk from the kinetic force of 3-foot waves. The new FEMA maps have expanded V zones along the New Jersey Shore all the way up into Hudson County. Prior to the adoption of these new FEMA advisory maps, there were no designated V zones on the Hudson River.

There are a total of 57 urban aid municipalities in the State, but the number of urban aid municipalities that will have FEMA V zones impacting large rivers, as specified by the bill, is significantly fewer. There are development projects in Hoboken and Weehawken that would be affected by the bill.

The bill was approved by the Senate with a vote of 37-3. It now heads to the General Assembly for final legislative approval.

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