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Monday, June 17, 2024

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New DEP Regulations Raising Concerns in Cape May City

New DEP Regulations Raising Concerns in Cape May City

By Vince Conti

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CAPE MAY – City Manager Paul Dietrich took aim at new rule-making by the state Department of Environmental Protection after a resident raised concerns about the regulations at the June 5 City Council meeting.

Dietrich responded to resident Jules Rauch by saying that the city has repeatedly stated its opposition to many of the new regulations, which are posted on the DEP website in a 1,057-page document that is currently being reviewed by the state Office of Administrative Law.

The regulations are expected to appear in the New Jersey Register in July; from that point the state has one year in which to adopt them.

The DEP is proposing changes to flood hazard, stormwater, coastal zone and freshwater wetlands regulations. The new rule-making is a response to Gov. Phil Murphy’s Executive Order 100, issued in 2020, which directed the DEP to incorporate potential climate change threats into land use regulations.

Dietrich said “it does not make sense” to issue development regulations on a 75-year planning horizon when Shore properties are generally redeveloped long before any such time period. He said he favored a more gradual approach that dealt with threats within more realistic time frames.

The manager selected three aspects of the new regulations for special comment.

He first focused on the proposed change to increase by 5 feet the coastal flood elevation. That represents 5 feet above the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s 100-year elevation. Noting that historic structures will be exempt, he warned that even with the exemption, many properties outside the city’s historic district would risk having to deal with the new rule if their owners engaged in significant renovations.

Dietrich said a potentially more disruptive aspect of the new regulations is the extension of the inundation zone based on projections of sea level rise out to 2100. This, he said, would bring many more properties into the flood zone, with all that such a designation brings with it.

He also said proposed changes would impact the city’s handling of road work, which must also meet regulations for certain elevations.

Contact the reporter, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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