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  • Writer's pictureMonique Coombs

Storm Recovery: FAQ about PERMITS

Updated: Mar 15

FMI regarding DEP permits, visit the DEP Storm Recovery Resources page.


What is Permit-by-Rule (PBR)?


A person proposing to do work that qualifies for Permit-by-Rule is required to file notice with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) instead of preparing an individual permit application. Permit by rule does not eliminate the need for a permit; rather, it's a specific type of permit designed to simplify the process. It comes into play when you're reconstructing the same structure that existed before a storm.

Under a permit by rule system, instead of requiring individual permits for each specific instance of an activity, a general set of rules and conditions is established. If a project or activity complies with these predetermined rules and conditions, it is granted a permit without the need for a lengthy and detailed application process.


It's important to note that the specific rules and conditions for permit by rule systems vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of activity involved.


Permit by rule has 20 different sections or activities that fall under its purview. For Working Waterfront properties seeking to rebuild after the storm, the most important section to review is Replacement of Structures.

New coastal shoreline stabilization projects aren’t currently eligible for Permit-by-Rule. However, if a previously existing coastal shoreline stabilization project (e.g., riprap or seawall) was damaged or destroyed, it may be put back to the same dimensions that existed previously via Section 4 Replacement of Structures.

What if I want to build my wharf back higher?


L.D. 2030 was recently signed into law and allows for increasing the height of a pier, wharf or dock when replacing the structure under Permit-by-Rule. The pier, wharf or dock may be elevated by the amount necessary for the bottom of the lowest horizontal structural member of the deck to be four feet or less above the base flood elevation (using the FEMA flood elevation).


Note that, in this scenario, the deck of the pier, wharf or dock can be extended back into the upland by the amount necessary to accommodate the height increase, and an additional row of pilings may be added to support the extension into the upland. The dimensions of the structure must otherwise remain the same as (or smaller than) they were previously.


What is an individual DEP permit?

An individual DEP permit is specific to a particular project or activity and is obtained through an application process. This process usually involves providing detailed information about the proposed project, its potential environmental impacts, and the measures that will be taken to mitigate or manage those impacts. The regulatory agency then reviews the application and, if it meets the necessary criteria and complies with environmental regulations, issues the individual permit.

It's important to note that the requirements for individual DEP permits can vary based on the type of activity, the environmental regulations of the jurisdiction, and the specific conditions of the proposed project.

Find out more about individual permits on the DEP website here.

Sidenote: We have been asking around to try and get a better understanding of the costs associated with permitting. Here's what we have heard so far: The cost of the permitting will be variable for each project, depending on the scale of the work. There may be some projects required to go through permitting that could cost as much as $100,000 alone.

We will be updating here as we learn more.

In summary:


If you're reconstructing on the same location as your previous property, you might be eligible for a permit by rule. LD 2030 allows for you to build your pier, wharf or dock higher than before through permit by rule, up to four feet above the base flood elevation (using FEMA flood maps).

However, if you’re rebuilding higher than 4 feet above the base flood elevation, expanding the structure farther into the water, making the structure wider, or adding new fill below or around your structure, you will probably need to apply for an individual permit from DEP.

Keep in mind, you can use different materials when rebuilding, just not creosote.


Other FAQ about Storm Recovery:



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