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Coastal Zone Conversion Permits

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) is developing regulations to implement a new permit process to allow industrial reuse of 14 existing sites of heavy industry use within Delaware’s Coastal Zone.

Public Hearing On Draft Regulations

DNREC and the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board held a joint public hearing on June 24 on proposed amendments to the Regulations Governing Delaware’s Coastal Zone

Division of Climate, Coastal, & Energy
100 W. Water Street, Suite 5A
Dover, DE 19904
302.735.3480

Meetings related to development of the Coastal Zone Conversion Permit are posted on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar.

Information on RAC meetings and materials is also available on the Regulatory Advisory Committee webpage.

The new permit process is called for under the Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act (CZCPA), which allows for conversion of these sites to additional or alternative heavy industry use. Permits for conversions will require an assessment of the environmental and economic impacts of the proposed conversion.

History and Background

In 1971, the Delaware Coastal Zone Act allowed heavy industry or bulk product transfer facilities on these 14 sites to continue while prohibiting new heavy industry uses in the Coastal Zone. Today, some of these sites are dormant or underutilized, and the prior use has been abandoned.

On August 2, 2017, Governor John Carney signed the Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act, amending the Delaware Coastal Zone Act. The new Act authorizes DNREC to issue permits for the construction and operation of new heavy industry uses within the 14 existing sites of heavy industry use within the state’s Coastal Zone. It also authorizes DNREC to issue permits for the bulk transfer of products under certain circumstances.

The Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act requires DNREC to develop regulations for the issuance of conversion permits by October 1, 2019. These regulations must be approved by the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board, after a public hearing.

The Act also directs DNREC to provide a baseline report summarizing the contamination and remediation status of the 14 heavy industry use sites and to update this report every two years.

Developing Revised Coastal Zone Regulations

The regulatory development process was initiated with a Start Action Notice, signed by DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin on September 28, 2017.

To ensure a transparent process with public input and involvement, DNREC contracted with the Consensus Building Institute (CBI) to conduct in-person stakeholder interviews in October and November of 2017. DNREC also hosted two public workshops in November 2017 to account for stakeholder concerns. This early public engagement resulted in 31 stakeholder interviews, nearly 80 people engaged at the two public workshops, and 42 written public comments.

Informed by this public input, CBI developed a summary report that outlined a framework for a collaborative regulatory development process, including recommendations to DNREC on the formation and membership of a Regulatory Advisory Committee.

DNREC, guided by these recommendations, held an open nomination process for membership on a Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act Regulatory Advisory Committee. In June 2018, DNREC announced the Committee’s membership, which represented a diversity of interests and views, including environmental organizations, business and industry, affected communities, government planners, and public health. The Committee was chaired by Justice Randy J. Holland, who retired from the Delaware Supreme Court in 2017, after a career of over 30 years.

The Committee met monthly from June 2018 through April 2019. All meetings were facilitated by CBI and the Committee Chair (in a non-voting role). Meeting discussions were informed by Committee-formed Work Groups that provided technical support on various conversion permit-related topics.  The Committee submitted its Final Report to Secretary Garvin in April 2019, outlining recommendations on the regulatory approach and content of conversion permit regulations.

Following the Regulatory Advisory Committee process, DNREC staff submitted initial proposed regulations to Secretary Garvin for review. The Secretary will publish a final draft of the regulations in the state Register of Regulations, along with a date for a public hearing and submission of written comments.

Until the new regulations are formally adopted, Coastal Zone Conversion Permits may be issued following the statutory and existing regulatory framework.

All public meetings will be posted on the state’s Public Meeting Calendar and notices will be sent via the Coastal Zone Listserv (send a blank email to join).

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