NJ reconstruction allowances after Sandy

A summary of NJ state CAFRA laws affecting Downe Township government and residents who rebuild following storm damage

Following hurricane Sandy Downe Township government and residents began the process of repairing and rebuilding. These actions are controlled by state law known as CAFRA. The DEP makes resources available on this law including a guide for homeowners, updates on case actions and occasional publications. The following summarizes the issues that most commonly affect us.

The following public utility actions are exempt from CAFRA:

Maintenance repair or replacement of any infrastructure provided it is within the cleared ROW. This would include roads, electric, cable, water, sewer and storm water.

Elevating a building

Reconstructing any development that legally existed on 7/19/94, destroyed by fire, storm, natural disaster or act of God. The reconstruction must be in compliance with all local construction codes and FEMA flood insurance requirements. There can be no enlargement of the structure. There can be no increase in the number of dwelling units. A relocation landward is permissible provided it doesn’t increase environmental damage (e.g. now located in wetlands).


Enlargement of an existing structure provided there is no enlargement of the footprint (i.e. you can add a second floor) and no increase in dwelling units.

Residential patios and decks not located on a beach or dune.

Permit-By-Rule allows up to a 400 square foot footprint expansion on the non-waterward side of a single family home or duplex.

Below mean high water, the following are exempt:

Repair, reconstruction or replacement of a legally existing dock, pier or bulkhead that appears on the 1977/78 Tidelands or 1971/72 Wetlands base photos. The structure must be confined to the same location and size and must be used solely for residential purposes or the servicing of pleasure vessels.

Redecking / replacement of bridges provided there is no change in length, width or height. (DEP would allow the bridge to be higher than the original but not lower for navigation purposes).

Reconstruction of houses outshore of the mean high water line or over water currently should be sent to us. In the case of bulkheads, if they are reconstructing the bulkhead and it is now out in the water, send information to DEP for confirmation that it is exempt.

Concerning rebuilding dikes and dredging ditches as necessary to protect roads and structures, restoration may proceed but work must be limited to the footprint of the original dike / ditch being maintained. Municipalities should send an e-mail with the location(s) and take before and after pictures just to be on the safe side. If they are filling into the bay to recreate fast land, that should get an emergency permit before they proceed. DEP is allowing 6 months to file for the emergency permit.