In the case where an emergency exists that poses a threat to health and human safety and/or a danger to the environment, there are provisions which allow for work to be conducted to take care of the emergency situation in a way that also meets the various rules and regulations administered by this Division. To assist the public and regulated community in understanding what these provisions are, the Division has provided regulatory guidance below on various emergency related topics.
Please note: The information on this webpage is specific to the Division of Land Use Regulation and is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to protecting human health and welfare in case of an emergency. For information on those topics, please see other resources such as: Ready.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FEMA, EPA, OSHA, FDA, Department of Homeland Security and the NJ Office of Emergency Management.
Land Use Topics
What is an emergency authorization, and how can I obtain one?
DLUR issues emergency authorizations (or emergency permits) when immediate action is needed to undertake work that will protect public health, safety, welfare and the environment. In certain cases, DLUR may determine the time needed to issue a permit using conventional methods may result in an unsafe condition that can harm the environment or threaten people or property. In such cases, individuals can seek an emergency authorization. Most recovery and repair activities public agencies, businesses, and homeowners need to conduct as a result of damage inflicted by an extreme weather event can be accomplished through receipt of an emergency authorization. Please be advised, some construction activities along the coast and in flood hazard areas may not qualify for an emergency authorization and instead will require receipt of a DLUR permit prior to construction.
A person seeking an emergency authorization must demonstrate there is an imminent threat to public health, safety, welfare or property, or a significant degradation to the environment, if work is not commenced immediately. Typically, an emergency authorization is first issued verbally by DLUR, followed by a letter explaining what is authorized and how the permittee must conduct the work. Once DLUR issues an emergency authorization, work can generally start immediately. Once work is completed, the permittee must apply for and obtain a DLUR permit using conventional methods in order to demonstrate that all work was done in accordance with the emergency authorization.
It is important to note that an emergency authorization is not intended to be used as an alternative to obtaining a DLUR permit or to circumvent the statutory review process when no emergency condition exists. Emergency authorizations are reserved only for those instances when immediate action is warranted to avoid or prevent ongoing or potential harm to people, property or the environment. In non-emergency situations, DLUR can sometimes expedite the review of a permit application. For information on how to request an emergency authorization please visit www.nj.gov/dep/landuse/emr_request.html or contact DLUR at (609)777-0454.
Do I need a permit to remove debris within regulated areas such as floodplains, waterways or wetlands?
Debris removal does not require a DLUR permit. However, private property owners are encouraged to first contact their municipality to see if a plan for debris removal has been implemented. Note: debris that is removed must be staged, transported, recycled and/or disposed of in accordance with appropriate solid waste and recycling regulations. If debris is removed from special areas such as wetlands, best management practices should be utilized, such as avoiding removal of trees and placement of protective marsh matting, to minimize temporary disturbances.
Do I need a permit to remove fallen trees and tree limbs from regulated areas such as floodplains, waterways or wetlands?
Removal of trees and tree limbs does not require a DLUR permit. Private property owners are encouraged to first contact their municipality to see if a plan for debris removal has been implemented. Note: debris that is removed must be staged, transported, recycled and/or disposed of in accordance with appropriate solid waste and recycling regulations. Woody debris may be chipped; however, wood chips may not be placed within wetlands or floodplains. DLUR considers the placement of wood chips within regulated areas a regulated fill activity which requires a DLUR permit. If debris is removed from special areas such as wetlands, best management practices should be utilized, such as avoiding removal of trees and placement of protective marsh matting, to minimize temporary disturbances.
Beach Restoration and Sand Removal
What kind of beach restoration activities can an entity conduct with a valid beach and dune maintenance permit?
An entity possessing a valid beach and dune maintenance permit may conduct several emergency post-storm restoration activities. These activities consist of:
- The bulldozing of sand from the lower beach profile to the upper beach profile;
- The alongshore transfer of sand on a beach;
- The placement of concrete or the placement of clean fill material with grain size compatible with (or larger than) the existing beach material rubble provided:
- All material shall be non-toxic sand, gravel, concrete, rubble, or other inert material;
- The placement of concrete or rubble shall be temporary in nature, and is not to be used as permanent protection, unless it is part of a DEP approved, engineered design for permanent shore protection;
- All concrete and rubble placed on the beach shall be removed within 90 days, unless the placement is part of a Department approved, engineered design for permanent shore protection; and
- The use of automobiles, tires, wood debris, asphalt, appliances or other solid waste is prohibited.
- The placement of sand filled geotextile bags or tubes. The placement of sand filled geotextile bags or tubes is preferred to the placement of concrete, rubble or other material (above restrictions for concrete would also apply to geotextile bags or tubes).
The above emergency post-storm beach restoration activities should be designed and implemented as a means to restore the beaches to the pre-storm condition, or to restore the beaches to a level sufficient to provide protection from a storm event with a minimum recurrence interval of five years (five-year storm protection). For specific criteria related to these activities, please see N.J.A.C. 7:7.
Do I need a permit to remove sand from my property and what can I do with the sand?
Sand may be removed from roadways, parking areas, structures and businesses without a DLUR permit. We recommend you coordinate with your municipality for guidance on proper sand disposal.
Does the municipality need a permit to put the sand on the beach?
Sand removed from roadways, structures and private property can be used to re-establish beach and dune systems provided the municipality has a valid DLUR beach and dune maintenance permit. Communities without a beach and dune maintenance permit can apply for an emergency authorization. Note: All sand placed back on the beach should be screened to remove any debris or solid waste.
Do I need a permit to replace portions of my property that eroded away during an extreme weather event?
Yes, placement of clean fill to replace land that eroded requires a DLUR permit. In addition, dredging eroded material from an adjacent waterway requires a DLUR permit. If you wish to place fill within an eroded area or dredge eroded material from a waterway, we recommend you apply for an emergency authorization. New shoreline stabilization structures also require a DLUR permit, but typically do not qualify for an emergency authorization. It is recommended that you obtain a DLUR permit for shoreline stabilization structures through the normal permitting process.
Is a permit needed for emergency roadway repair?
A permit is not required for emergency roadway repair. Roadways and associated infrastructure such as sidewalks, guardrails, and road beds may be repaired, replaced or stabilized within their preexisting footprints (in-kind repair or replacement).
Is a permit needed for utility replacement and repair?
A permit is not required for utility replacement or repair unless the utility line is within freshwater wetlands or within the floodway of a stream. In those cases, a Freshwater Wetlands General Permit No. 1 and/or a Flood Hazard Area Individual Permit may be required. If utility replacement or repair needs to occur within freshwater wetlands and/or the floodway of a stream, we recommend you obtain an emergency authorization.
Boardwalk and Dune Walkovers
Does the municipality need a permit to repair, replace or reconstruct a boardwalk or dune walkover structure?
A permit is not required to repair or replace boardwalks and dune walkovers that legally existed prior to an extreme weather event provided they are built within the same footprint (size and location). If a municipality wishes to expand the boardwalk or dune walkover footprint, a permit is required. Likewise, if a municipality wishes to construct shore stabilization structures adjacent to their boardwalk or dune walkover, a permit is required.
Does the municipality need a permit to repair, replace or reconstruct legally existing structures on the beach (i.e. gazebos, pavilions)?
In the CAFRA zone, a permit is not required to repair, replace or reconstruct legally existing structures on the beach provided the structures are built within the same footprint (size and location). Outside the CAFRA zone, a permit is required for reconstruction of legally existing structures on a beach unless the structures are more than 100 feet from the mean high water line.
Do I need permits to clean a stream of debris?
Conducting minor stream cleaning activities such as de-snagging tree limbs may not need Land Use permits. To find out more about this topic, please go to the Guidelines for Stream Cleaning. Also, for information regarding de-snagging and cleaning streams in the Passaic River Basin go to Streamlined Process for De-snagging and Cleaning of Streams in the Passaic River Basin.