Secaucus is updating its town code to be on the same page as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).
The Secaucus Town Council has voted unanimously to introduce an ordinance that would repeal the chapter on “Flood Damage Prevention” in favor of adopting a chapter on “Flood Plain Management Regulations.”
Mayor Michael Gonnelli was absent from the June 28 meeting, with Third Ward Councilman Bill McKeever chairing the meeting in his place.
The new flood plain management regulations pertain to the adoption of Flood Hazard Maps, the designation of a Flood Plan Administrator, and the provision of severability and an effective date.
Updating town code on flood plains
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has identified special flood hazard areas within the boundaries Secaucus. Such areas may be subject to periodic inundation which may result in loss of life and property, health and safety hazards, disruption of commerce and governmental services, extraordinary public expenditures for flood protection and relief, and impairment of the tax base, all of which adversely affect the public health, safety and general welfare, according to the proposed ordinance.
The ordinance notes that the town administers and enforces the state building codes, and such building codes contain certain provisions that apply to the design and construction of buildings and structures in flood hazard areas; and zoning codes that secure safety from floods and contain certain provisions that apply to the development of lands.
Per the ordinance, the Secaucus is required, within 12 months after the delineation of any flood hazard area, to adopt rules and regulations concerning the development and use of land in the flood fringe area which at least conform to the standards promulgated by the NJDEP.
Any person who violates the ordinance or fails to comply with any of its requirements shall be subject to a fine of not more than $1,500, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days, or a period of community service not exceeding 90 days. Any person who has unlawfully disposed of solid waste in a floodway or flood plain who fails to comply with the ordinance or any of its requirements will be fined from $2,500 to $10,000 upon conviction.
Bringing regulations in line with the NJDEP
After the meeting, Town Administrator Gary Jeffas described the crux of the ordinance.
“The NJDEP required that towns update their flood plain management to just have them up to the standards that the state set that they wanted to see,” Jeffas said. “It was a long process. Our town attorney worked through doing it and sending it to the DEP.”
Now that is has been sent to the DEP, the town awaits approval in the time before the ordinance is up for final adoption.
“They review it, make sure it meets their standards and has everything in there, give us the OK, then we adopt it,” Jeffas said. “It’s updating our flood plan management so that it’s consistent with the state requirements and what they want to make sure each town has.”
The next meeting of the Secaucus Town Council where a public hearing on the ordinance may be held. For more information, go to secaucusnj.gov.
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