Sunday, April 30, 2006

Jersey Shore Development

From the Star Ledger:
Coastal development: Where should it stop?

After storms lashed the Jersey Shore in 1984, 1991 and 1992, policymakers vowed to change the way development was regulated along the state's densely built shoreline.

But when lawmakers reauthorized the state's coastal development law in 1993, a new provision gave homeowners a guaranteed right to rebuild, regardless of how much damage their property sus tained in a storm.

The rules already contained a gaping loophole that allowed 24-unit condominium complexes to be built without a state permit, and yet another revision from 2000 handed Atlantic City casinos the right to build on piers.

Fast forward to 2006, and the barrier islands are far more built up than ever before. Tens of billions of dollars worth of oceanfront mansions line a shifting and vulnerable necklace of sand.

In the wake of Hurricane Ka trina -- which devastated New Or leans, broke the National Flood Insurance Program and sent ripples of concern through the ranks of private insurers -- the wisdom of coastal development is again at center stage.

So far, reformers have focused on restoring the insurance program to solvency, with members of Congress talking tough about raising premiums on older properties or even yanking coverage for properties that are repeatedly flooded.

But a few witnesses at congressional hearings dared raise a more basic issue: Wasn't it time, they asked, that coastal states like New Jersey stopped building in harm's way?
Given the soaring price of real estate, tear-downs have become big business on the barrier islands. They have eliminated many of the older, flood-prone structures, but replaced them with much more expensive houses.

Many are owned by people who don't know the dangers.

A lull in severe storms on the East Coast has produced a whole generation of beachfront property owners who don't remember the 1962 storm -- the last Big One -- which killed at least seven people along the Jersey Shore and washed away hundreds of houses.


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5/18/2006 04:36:00 PM  

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