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April 19, 2013

Re:  Senate Environment and Energy Committee, Sandy Related Bills, For Thursday, April 25

Dear Mayor:

The Senate Environment and Energy Committee will meet next Thursday, April 25 to consider a number of bills introduced as a result of Hurricane Sandy.   At the League’s last legislative committee, a special committee chaired by League First Vice President Suzanne Walters, Mayor of Stone Harbor, reviewed the majority of the bills under consideration by the Senate Committee. 

The League supports the following bills scheduled for Senate committee action:

  • S-2599, Requires consideration of increased property value due to dune construction in determining compensation provided for condemned beachfront property.
    • Dunes provide protection not only for the beachfront property owner but their neighbors as well.   In Superstorm Sandy we witnessed first hand the protection provided by dunes.  Thus, S-2599/A-3889 is good public policy as it provides just compensation for the lost of property while recognizing the value that a dune system creates for beachfront property. 

The League opposes the following bills:

  • S-2598, Provides limited exemption from local land use restrictions to allow certain existing structures to be raised to new FEMA base flood elevations.
    • While the League appreciates the sponsors’ objectives in sponsoring this Legislation, the League cannot support S-2598. Fundamentally we must respectfully oppose S-2598 as it usurps local discretion and removes public participation, including that of neighboring property owners, in the development of their communities.
  • S-2601, Permits fifth and sixth class counties to assure control and responsibility for operation and maintenance of beaches bordering Atlantic Ocean.
    • Currently, most beaches in New Jersey are operated by either a municipality or a private association/corporation.  The beach fees that are collected are used to off-set the operation and maintenance of the beach.  This system allows the citizens of a municipality to determine what level of services they wish to provide and an equitable cost-sharing between the taxpayers of the municipality and beach users to keep the cost of beach operations affordable for all residents and visitors to the beach.   This bill, as introduced, would authorize counties to supersede municipal ordinances establishing beach fees.   However, when this bill was first discussed by the Senate Committee, the Committee members discussed amending the bill to allow municipalities to opt-in to a county agreement. 

The Committee will also consider the following bills, which the League continues to evaluate in order to determine their impact on municipalities and property taxpayers.

  • S-2600, Established criteria and requirements for shore protection project priority list and funding from Shore Protection Fund.
  • S-2602, Repeals law providing CAFRA permit exemption for certain grading or exaction of a dune.
  • S-2680, Allows development on piers in coastal high hazard areas in certain urban municipalities.
  • SR-100, Urges US Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA to conduct assessment of damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

For additional information on this hearing or on these bills, please contact Mike Cerra at (609) 695-3481 x120.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director




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