Christie Issues Numerous Advisories

Brilliant Staff News – April 2013
April 22, 2013
Technical Guidance Revised
April 22, 2013
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Christie Issues Numerous Advisories

Christie Administration Reminds Public to be Cautious as Wildfire Season Gets Under Way

With spring wildfire season getting under way, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service urged the public to exercise extra caution when outdoors.

“It is very important at this time of year to be extra mindful of steps you can take to reduce the chance of wildfires,” said State Forester Lynn Fleming. “Wildfire risks increase at this time of year because weather conditions tend to be dry and windy. At the same time, the forest canopy has not leafed out, allowing the sun and wind to dry leaf litter and debris on the forest floor that can act as tinder for larger wildfires.”

Wildfire risk is currently rated as high in southern and central New Jersey and as moderate in northern New Jersey. Risks will likely increase this week due to a forecast for increasing temperatures and continued dry conditions.

So far this year the New Jersey Forest Fire Service has responded to 230 wildfires that have burned 293 acres, compared with 461 fires that burned 1,994 acres during the same period last year.

Over the past weekend, 42 wildfires were reported across New Jersey, burning 182 acres. The largest, in an extremely remote section of Wharton State Forest in Burlington County that burned more than 150 acres over the weekend, is under investigation. The Forest Fire Service continues to work on the fire and expects the final acreage burned to be higher.

The Forest Fire Service also responded to a number of smaller brush fires in northern New Jersey on Monday, April 8.

Ninety-nine percent of all wildfires in New Jersey are caused by human activity, usually carelessness, negligence or arson. The Forest Fire Service works to prevent wildfires year-round through public outreach and education efforts, prescribed burning operations, and maintenance of fire breaks.

Wildfire risks increase with every new structure built in or adjacent to forests. Wildfires can spread quickly in New Jersey, threatening homes, property, natural resources and human lives, yet most are preventable.

Follow these guidelines to reduce the risk of fires:

  • Use ashtrays in vehicles. Discarding cigarettes, matches and smoking materials is a violation of New Jersey law.
  • Obtain necessary permits for campfires. Don’t leave fires unattended. Douse them completely.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children. Teach them the dangers of fire.
  • People living in the forest should maintain a defensible buffer by clearing vegetation within 30 feet of any structures. Also, make sure fire trucks can pass down your driveway.
  • Report suspicious vehicles and individuals to authorities.
  • Be careful when using wood stoves and fireplaces. They can emit embers that can spark fires. Also fully douse ashes with water before disposal.

For more information on wildfires and fire safety, visit www.njwildfire.org.


Christie Administration Gears Up for Busy Recreational Fishing and Boating Season Along the Jersey Shore; Last of Recreational Advisories Lifted for Raritan Bay

With recreational fishing and boating season getting into gear, the Christie Administration released a “Jersey Shore Open for Boating” fact sheet and flier to educate the public on having a safe time on the water.

“Governor Christie and I are committed to ensuring that our coastal communities are open for tourism and recreation this season after all our state has been through because of Superstorm Sandy,” said NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin.

“We have come a long way. Marinas and charter fishing operations are gearing up for the season , and water quality is excellent,” Commissioner Martin said. “We want everyone to know that New Jersey’s waterways are open for your enjoyment. We just ask you to use common sense and caution as cleanup continues.”

“The waterways in some areas may be very different than before Superstorm Sandy, and boaters need to be aware of obstacles and adjust their speed accordingly for safety,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.  “Everyone is reminded to be mindful of their surroundings and always follow commonsense measures, such as wearing personal flotation devices.”

“The companies cleaning up the coast are doing a great job.  The Governor is on top of it,” said Fred Brueggemann, incoming president of the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey.  “We know that  Barnegat Bay has been a priority of his since he took office long before the storm.  We look forward to working with the NJDEP and New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) to ensure a wonderful boating season.”

The NJDEP continues to monitor water quality along the entire coastline, with all test results meeting recreational use standards.   The NJDEP recently lifted the recreational fishing and boating advisory in place for Raritan Bay since Superstorm Sandy hit at the end of October.  As a result, all recreational use advisories have now been lifted across the state.

The NJDEP will continue to work with the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) as well as county and local health agencies to ensure protection of water quality and the safety of the public now and into the summer season. Recreational bathing beaches will be thoroughly monitored, with any closings posted on the NJDEP’s website at www.njbeaches.org

State contractors under the direction of the NJDEP have been focusing on removing debris from bays, channels, rivers, inlets and other coastal waters since the beginning of March, removing pieces of structures, docks, bulkheads, boats, and cars. Priority is being given to areas that pose a threat to public safety and the environment or impede
navigation.

The NJDEP is working with the NJDOT, the Marine Services Bureau of the State Police, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, and municipalities to assess boating safety as cleanup progresses.

The NJDOT has been doing sonar surveys and marking areas where debris is to be removed from state navigation channels. The Army Corps of Engineers has also been working on clearing the Intracoastal Waterway of debris.

“Our focus during waterway debris removal remains on public safety,” Commissioner Martin said. “While this work is ongoing, it is imperative that boaters be particularly attentive while out on the water.”

Boaters should travel at slower speeds, always wear personal flotation devices and stay tuned to Channel 16 for public safety alerts. They are advised that some navigation channels may have shifted or become shoaled. Anyone observing floating or submerged debris should report this to the DEP at 1-877-WARNDEP.

View the flyer and fact sheet.  For more information on the waterway debris removal effort, visit this website and follow on Twitter: @NJBeachReport.


Christie Administration Issues Mold Guidance for New Jersey Residents Recovering From Superstorm Sandy

The NJDOH released a Mold Guidelines for New Jersey Residents pamphlet created to provide direction to residents on addressing mold in homes in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. In addition, the NJDOH is announcing a series of training classes in cooperation with the UMDNJ School of Public Health to assist homeowners, volunteers and public health and building code officials in mold removal and assessment.

“As New Jersey recovers and rebuilds from Superstorm Sandy, mold and its remediation may become a significant issue for many New Jersey residents,” said Mary E. O’Dowd, New Jersey Health Commissioner. “Although molds are common in our environment, mold may become a problem when it grows inside homes. These guidelines were developed to better inform homeowners on how to ensure their homes are cleaned and remediated properly to avoid mold problems now and in the future.”

Molds can cause staining of walls and ceilings and can affect building components causing property damage. Exposure to mold can cause nasal and throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation.

The pamphlet addresses a number of topics including mold-related health concerns, how to inspect for mold and tools and techniques for clean-up. For example:

  • If mold is visually apparent, resources should be used to correct any moisture problems and clean up mold contamination rather than testing.
  • For smaller areas less than 10 square feet that have been affected by mold growth, a homeowner or business owner may be capable of performing the work, but for larger areas greater than 100 square feet, a qualified contractor who has experience in mold or environmental contamination may be required.
  • Those performing remediation work need to be protected with gloves, a respirator, protective clothing and goggles.

Read the full release on the Governor’s Office website.


Christie Administration Takes Emergency Action to Expedite Recovery and Rebuilding Projects for Sandy Affected New Jerseyans

As part of its ongoing commitment to helping New Jersey’s communities recover and rebuild from the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy, the Christie Administration took action to streamline state permits for various types of vital rebuilding projects, a move that will aid reconstruction of impacted homes and businesses, assist the recovery of marinas and shellfish industries, help make coastal areas more resilient in future storms, and expedite dredging of storm-impacted private lagoons and marinas.

Through emergency rules filed with the Office of Administrative Law, the NJDEP is eliminating unnecessary red tape by enabling various types of projects to proceed under less cumbersome permit procedures, including permits by rule and general permits. At the same time, the processes put in place will not compromise protection of coastal resources and will help ensure the rebuilding of a more resilient New Jersey coastline.

“Rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy is one of the greatest challenges New Jersey has ever faced,” NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. “The Christie Administration is committed to taking every step possible to help our communities become stronger than ever from this historic storm, including eliminating unnecessary red tape that would needlessly impede the important work ahead. These common sense changes will make it easier for our residents and businesses to continue on the road to recovery while ensuring continued protection of natural resources.”

These important changes will help property owners, businesses and municipalities rebuild more efficiently by eliminating or reducing time needed for DEP reviews. It will also save them fees and costs associated with more complex permit requirements.

The activities regulated by the simplified permit process are for reconstruction activities that are occurring largely on the same footprint or involve minimal additional environmental impacts. In many cases, this rule proposal will provide significant environmental benefits and better prepare coastal communities for future storms. For example, in advance of the impending 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, the rule proposal allows for use of permits by rule for necessary beach and dune maintenance.

Permits by rule recognize that the projects being undertaken are minor in scope and have no environmental impact.

Immediately after the storm, the Christie Administration took swift action to ease red tape for local governments that needed to make emergency repairs to public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, bulkheads and culverts. The Administration more recently adopted a permit by rule process for property owners who rebuild to new statewide elevation standards in flood hazard zones.

Now the Administration is taking decisive action to help businesses and residents more easily get through the NJDEP’s regulatory process for a variety of other projects through amendments to Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) and Waterfront Development Act rules. NJDEP’s environmental standards will remain in place and will be enforced.

Specifically, the emergency rules enhance coastal protection by:

  • Allowing maintenance of engineered beaches and dunes to federal project design levels through municipal dune and beach maintenance permits.
  • Changing the current individual permit requirement to a general permit for projects that create living shorelines. Living shorelines utilize strategic placement of native vegetation, sand, organic materials, and/or bivalves such as oysters, clams and mussels to reinforce shorelines and prevent flooding naturally.
  • Establishing a permit by rule for placement of sand fencing to help create and stabilize dunes and to remove sand from underneath boardwalks.

The emergency amendments will expedite the rebuilding of residential and commercial structures by:

  • Providing for a permit by rule for reconstruction of damaged residential or commercial structures in Waterfront Development areas that are outside the CAFRA zone, primarily Raritan Bay and the Newark-New York Harbor complex. Such rebuilding is already exempt in the state’s CAFRA zone, which hugs the coastline from Sandy Hook south to Cape May Point and north again along the Delaware Bay to Salem County.
  • To help property owners make their buildings safer when feasible, the rule changes the current individual permit requirement to a permit by rule for lateral or landward relocation of the existing footprint of a structure. Expansion must be no more than 400 square feet.
  • Eliminating the need for a permit to elevate a bulkhead, dock or pier as part of repair, replacement or reconstruction, as long as this is done in the existing footprint and not over wetlands. This will provide more resilience in future storms.

The rules also provide flexibility to allow marinas and other small businesses to enhance their operations without coming to NJDEP by:

  • Changing current Individual permits to permits by rule to allow marinas to reconfigure docks, wharfs, and piers within their existing leased areas.
  • Allowing a permit by rule for construction or installation of boat pump-out facilities.
  • Changing current individual permit requirement to a general permit for construction of support facilities.

The emergency rules also contain provisions to aid the recovery of the shellfish/aquaculture industry by:

  • Allowing for a permit by rule for placement of certain land-based structures instead of an individual permit.
  • Allowing for a permit by rule for placement of predator screens, shellfish cages and other minor activities.
  • Establishing a general permit for various commercial aquaculture activities, such as placement of shell.

Finally, the rules expedite dredging after a storm event for which the Governor has declared a State of Emergency, by:

  • Allowing general permits instead of individual permits for dredging of man-made lagoons impacted by storm events.
  • Replacing individual permits with general permits for removal of sand and gravel deposited in the water as a result of bulkheads damaged by storms.
  • Allowing general permits instead of individual permits to dredge marinas of materials deposited from storm events.
  • Eliminating the requirement for a CAFRA permit for rehabilitation and use of existing dredged material management areas within the same footprint.

The emergency rule will be effective for 60 days. The emergency rule contains a concurrent rule proposal which will be open for public comment for 30 days. A public hearing on the final rule will be held May 22 from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Long Branch Municipal Building, 344 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ 07740.

Following the comment period, the NJDEP will respond to public comments with the goal of adopting the final rule at the expiration of the emergency rule.

For a copy of the emergency rule, including details on how to provide comments, please visit this website.

For information on statewide elevation standards, visit this website.

A copy of the NJDEP’s statement of imminent peril can be obtained through the press office.

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