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Christie Vetoes Bill Mandating Fees for New Development in Barnegat Bay Watershed

Other avenues available to improve stormwater infrastructure and reduce pollution, governor says

Gov. Chris Christie has nixed a state Senate bill that would have required the Ocean County Planning Board and Ocean County towns to develop a fee system for new development in the Barnegat Bay watershed.

The restoration of water quality in the bay is one of his adminstration's "top priorities," the governor said.

"Despite my commitment to restoring the water quality of Barnegat Bay, I am unable to sign this bill," Christie said.

Raising taxes and establishing new fees is not the way to go for already overburdened residents and business owners, he said.

"Unfortunately, raising taxes and imposing new fees is the way the Legislature most commonly seeks to address our state's issues," Christie said. "This approach has resulted in extraordinary financial burdens on the state's citizens and business and property owners, and has often not resulted in a solution to the underlying problem."

Christie's veto of Senate bill 1856 was good news for the Ocean County Board of Freeholders, who opposed the bill because it singled out Ocean County.

"We commend Chris Christie for supporting the Ocean County Board of Freeholders in not creating a new tax on the residents of Ocean County," Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said today.

The Barnegat Bay watershed is a national estuary, and any programs aimed at stormwater management and reducing pollution should be paid for with state and federal funds, not by Ocean County residents, he said.

"It's a national estuary," Vicari said. "It's a treasure. We want to protect it."

Ocean County received an environmental excellence award from the state in 2008, during Gov. Jon S. Corzine's administration. Roughly 1,600 storm drains around the county were retrofitted, he said.

The Ocean County Utilities Authority has met and exceeded state Department of Environmental Protection stormwater regulations, Vicari said.

The county recently sought $12 million from the state Environmental Infrastructure Trust to upgrade 25 basins in major watersheds thought to be contributing to nitrogen pollution of the bay. That nutrient is blamed for the surge in stinging nettles in the bay, and shrinking submerged vegetation beds that are a crucial part of the marine nursery in the waterway.

Ocean County Engineer Frank Scarantino recently said he expects $3 million will be approved by the state to upgrade four of those basins, each serving a watershed ranging from 80 to 100 acres in area. Those were the ones ranked highest among the 25 for which the county sought state funds, he said.

Christie said in his veto statement that there is funding available in the State Revolving Fund and Environmental Infrastructure Trust to improve stormwater infrastructures throughout the state. Christie also signed legislation to establish "restrictive" standards for nitrogen content in fertilizer and application rates.

There are already local municipal ordinances "on the books" to address stormwater pollution. The DEP also has extensive stormwater regulatory and permitting programs already in place, the governor said in his statement.

bill wolfe May 16, 2011 at 07:22 PM
The headline and content of this story are incorrect. The bill did NOT mandate fees. The Gov. is not telling the truth (again). According to the non-partisan professionals at the Office of Legislative Services(OLS) fiscal estimate on the bill: The bill authorizes the Ocean County Planning Board and each municipal planning board within the Barnegat Bay watershed to develop a stormwater and nonpoint source pollution management plan for the watershed. This is a voluntary measure not mandated by the State. · The bill directs these plans, if developed, to include a formula for the possible assessment by the subject planning boards of a fee for any new development within the Barnegat Bay watershed. Fee revenues could be used for improvements and maintenance of stormwater control facilities and to provide incentives to property owners to reduce stormwater runoff from their property. · The bill also allows the subject planning boards to assess the same formula-based fee, as previously cited, upon any developer who receives a municipal approval of an application for development under the “Municipal Land Use Law.” · The Office Of Legislative Services estimates that there would be no fiscal impact on public funds under the bill because the management plan authorized therein is voluntary." See this for links to the facts: http://www.wolfenotes.com/2011/04/ocean-county-freeholders-side-with-developers-over-restoring-barnegat-bay/
Concerned Brick Citizen May 16, 2011 at 07:27 PM
There is no use in taking movies or pictures. They are worthless. These “various” state agencies don’t care. I turned in on numerous occasions a number of blatant violations. A really big deal are the pool outflows on many waterfront houses. They go directly into the rivers, lagoons and bays. I have pictorial proof. Code enforcement, DEP, etc. will do nothing about this. My neighbors had a problem with their in ground pool. Conveniently the work was done on a long holiday weekend were no one could be contacted. The pool was drained into the Metedeconk River. People and many business are sneaks and will continue to be so. The township needs to also take some sort of responsibility, NOT JUST THE GOVERNER. Code enforcement has a cushy job they work 9 to 4 or 5 Monday thru Friday. That is it. If the violation is done off work hours, it will never be reported (or never happened). The police will not be involved also. It irks me no end that I see a crime and no one will take action when I report it. I then become the problem –That is the real crime! - For a 100k salary plus benefits. I will be willing to work off hours (evenings and weekends) to report code violations. I do know where to look! My salary would be covered by the fines. It is a shame that we have so many public employee's who look the other way or don't work off the clock. Violations happen 24/7!
Concerned Brick Citizen May 16, 2011 at 07:40 PM
Annette you are pipe dreaming if you think anything will happen. I was one who chose not to remain silent. I met directly with our local legislator. David Wolfe in particular. He listened but stated I’m only a simple Psychology Professor. Meaning there was nothing he could do or that he would not take further action. My problem was serious and an ongoing struggle with the NJ DCA and the Township of Brick… won’t go into details, but am writing a book. After 5 years of fighting, I realized that no one is going to help. They are only out for themselves. It is impossible to fight city hall. I was told by a NJ DCA employee something like this, "You may be right, but my right trumps your right".
Concerned Brick Citizen May 16, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Annette the problem goes beyond fertilizer run off which is the easiest thing to blame. It is over development, bulk heading along our waterways, pet and other animal waste. We need the vegetation to absorb pollutants. All these houses with rocks versus grass is a worse option. Why won't anyone do a study which show what landscaping is more environmentally friendly. I live on the water have grass and don’t abuse the use of fertilizer. I have a very green lawn, but know how to care for it in an environmentally friendly way. Both of my neighbors have rocks and constantly spray herbicides to kill weeds. Don’t these herbicides cause damage? What happens when they flow into our waterways? Do they harm eelgrass? I blame the problem on lazy people. Professional landscapers over fertilize to keep their clients happy. People with rock landscaping take the easy way out by overusing herbicides because they are to lazy to get on their hands and knees to pull weeds. On a logical note: Grass, plants and trees are not only pleasing, but also keeps the environment around the property cool. Rocks are bright like snow, like living in winter all year round. They are hard to walk upon and keep your property hot, hot, hot! -- Turn up the A/C and burn more energy. Keep cool the smart way...
Capt. Kirk May 24, 2011 at 06:05 AM
"christie is a one termer" we can only pray

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