House Bill 190
149th General Assembly (Present)
Becomes effective upon date of signature of the Governor or upon date specified
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 7 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE COASTAL ZONE ACT.
This Act, which shall be known as the Coastal Zone Conversion Permit Act, makes changes to the Coastal Zone Act (“CZA”), which has not been significantly updated since its enactment almost a half century ago. The CZA, enacted in 1971, has enabled Delaware to preserve and protect our coastline, one of Delaware’s greatest natural resources. However, the CZA has also allowed property that has been in use by heavy industry for nearly 50 years, most suitable for similar industrial uses, to go unused unless the owner is willing to engage in the same heavy industry use or to use the property for manufacturing. This Act establishes a procedure to allow for the responsible, productive reuse of the 14 existing sites of heavy industry use within the coastal zone. Specifically, this Act provides that the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (“Secretary”) may issue a conversion permit entitling the owner, operator, or prospective purchaser of an existing heavy industry use site operate an alternative or additional heavy industry use at a heavy industry use site. A conversion permit may also be sought for a heavy industry use site that had a docking facility or pier for a single industrial or manufacturing facility at the time the original CZA was passed in 1971, to engage in the bulk transfer of products produced in or used by a facility in the coastal zone. Agricultural products in bulk may also be transferred without regard to origin or destination pursuant to a conversion permit. Liquefied natural gas terminals or transfers are not allowed under this provision. The CZA already contains an exception from the definition of “bulk product transfer facility” for “a docking facility or pier for a single industrial or manufacturing facility for which a permit is granted or which is a nonconforming use,” and that exception is maintained in this Act. A person applying for a conversion permit must submit a written application including all of the information currently required for a permit under the CZA in addition to the following: (1) the environmental impact and economic effect of the existing or previous heavy industry use or uses, (2) the environmental impact and economic effect of the alternative or additional heavy industry use or bulk product transfer activity, (3) the net environmental improvement, economic improvement, or both, inherent in the additional or alternative heavy industry use or bulk product transfer activity as compared to the most recent heavy industry use, (4) evidence of compliance with the Delaware Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act (“HSCA”) and other environmental laws, (5) a sea-level rise plan, (6) an offset proposal required to more than offset the negative environmental impacts of an activity, consistent with regulations, (7) a timetable for the conversion from the existing heavy industry use to the alternative or additional heavy industry use or bulk product transfer activity, and (8) evidence of financial assurances. Together, these additional requirements will ensure the coastal zone is protected while providing more flexibility for viable economic use to these 14 existing sites of heavy industry use. This Act specifies that the Secretary may not grant a conversion permit to operate any oil refinery, basic cellulose pulp paper mill, incinerator, basic steel manufacturing plant, or liquefied natural gas terminal not in existence on June 28, 1971. All conversion permit applications under this Act are subject to a public hearing. The Secretary must respond to an application for a conversion permit within 90 days of receiving an application.