On October 2, 2006, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) published proposed new, and more stringent, stream encroachment rules to replace the existing rules. The proposed rules are subject to public comment period until December 31, 2006. After that, the new rules could become effective shortly thereafter.
One of the most significant changes in the proposed rules would be the expansion of buffers along water bodies within which no new development would be allowed. The current stream encroachment rules have maximum buffers of 50 feet. Under the proposed rules, 50 feet will be the minimum buffer size. The largest buffers, 300 feet, will be along Category 1 streams, and all upstream tributaries of those streams. Under the proposed rules, an intermediate 150-foot buffer is also created for (1) all upstream tributaries to streams designated as trout production and trout maintenance streams, (2) all waters flowing through areas that support certain threatened and endangered species, and tributaries of those water bodies within one mile of the primary protected water body and (3) waters that flow through areas that contain acid producing soils. All other water bodies are subject to a 50-foot buffer.
The proposed rules will not be applied to stream encroachment permit applications submitted and deemed complete by the DEP before the proposed new rules become effective. Therefore, if you have property that you wish to develop, and that property is adjacent to or contains streams, then you may wish to either evaluate the potential impact of the proposed regulations on your property or immediately apply for a stream encroachment permit. Delay may render large parts of your property un-developable.
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