CAFRA Centers: Toms River Current But Others Expiring?
The long awaited Toms River coastal/CAFRA (Coastal Area Facilities Review Act) center designation process is complete. DEP took action to accept the State Planning Commission’s changed planning area boundaries for Toms River, including its Regional Center and Core Community Development Boundaries in the coastal area. Notice of DEP’s acceptance of the planning area boundaries, as required under the Coastal Rules, was published August 6, 2018 and became operative September 5, 2018. These Center and Planning Area boundaries are now in effect for purposes of determining impervious cover and vegetative cover limits for Toms River sites that require CAFRA approval.
Under DEP’s Coastal Rules and the Permit Extension Act, the Toms River mainland coastal center expired late-2016. The expiration of mainland coastal centers significantly reduced the amount of allowable impervious cover available for development of sites in mainland coastal centers such as Toms River that are subject to CAFRA permitting from 80% to 3-30% depending upon the planning area designation of a parcel. With the recent regulatory action taken by DEP, sites in the Regional Center and six Core areas that require CAFRA approval qualify for 80% impervious cover.
This positive development regarding Toms River is a reminder that other currently existing CAFRA centers may soon expire. The State Planning Commission adopted amended regulations effective August 21, 2015 to extend the period of approval of Plan Endorsements and center designations for three years beyond their otherwise applicable expiration date. That action was taken to prevent the loss of older endorsed plans that remained valid by operation of the Permit Extension Act (“PEA”), and would have expired with the sunsetting of the PEA. As a result, designated centers that remained effective only by operation of law under the PEA were extended for an additional 3 years until December 31, 2018 based on the State Planning Commission action. That action ensured continued validity and effect of “CAFRA centers” under DEP’s Coastal Rules, as CAFRA centers are based upon State Planning Commission designated centers. In the absence of further State Planning Commission regulatory action, Plan Endorsement will expire January 1, 2019 for municipalities whose Plans remain valid by the prior regulatory extension of the Commission unless municipalities take action to extend or update their endorsed Plan by December 31, 2018. The expiration of such Plans will result in a corresponding loss of CAFRA center status where applicable.