Borough of Fair Lawn, NJ
Bergen County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the Borough of Fair Lawn 7-27-1982 as Ch. XVIII of the 1981 Revised General Ordinances. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 85.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 104.
Land development — See Ch. 125.
The Legislature of the State of New Jersey has delegated the responsibility to local governmental units to adopt regulations designed to promote the public health, safety and general welfare of its citizenry.
A. 
The flood hazard areas of the borough are subject to periodic inundation which results 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.
B. 
These flood losses are caused by the cumulative effect of obstructions in areas of special flood hazards which increase flood heights and velocities and when inadequately anchored, damage uses in other areas. Uses that are inadequately floodproofed, insufficiently elevated or otherwise inadequately protected from flood damage also contribute to the flood loss.
It is the purpose of this chapter to promote the public health, safety and general welfare and to minimize public and private losses due to flood conditions in specific areas by provisions designed:
A. 
To protect human life and health;
B. 
To minimize expenditure of public money for costly flood control projects;
C. 
To minimize the need for rescue and relief efforts associated with flooding and generally undertaken at the expense of the general public;
D. 
To minimize prolonged business interruptions;
E. 
To minimize damage to public facilities and utilities such as water and gas mains, electric, telephone and sewer lines, streets and bridges located in areas of special flood hazard;
F. 
To help maintain a stable tax base by providing for the second use and development of areas of special flood hazard so as to minimize future flood blight areas;
G. 
To insure that potential buyers are notified that property is in an area of special flood hazard; and
H. 
To ensure that those who occupy the areas of special flood hazard assume responsibility for their actions.
In order to accomplish its purposes, this chapter includes methods and provisions for:
A. 
Restricting or prohibiting uses which are dangerous to health, safety and property due to water erosion hazards or which result in damaging increases in erosion or in flood heights or velocities;
B. 
Requiring that uses vulnerable to floods, including facilities which serve such uses, be protected against flood damage at the time of initial construction;
C. 
Controlling the alteration of natural floodplains, stream channels and natural protective barriers, which help accommodate or channel floodwaters;
D. 
Controlling filling, grading, dredging and other development which may increase flood damage; and
E. 
Preventing or regulating the construction of flood barriers which will unnaturally divert floodwaters or which may increase flood hazards in other areas.
A. 
Unless specifically defined below, words or phrases used in this chapter shall be interpreted so as to give them the meanings they have in common usage and to give this chapter its most reasonable application.
B. 
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
APPEAL
A request for a review of the Borough Engineer's interpretation of any provision of this chapter or a request for an exception.
AREA OF SHALLOW FLOODING
A designated AO Zone on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). The base flood depths range from one foot to three feet; a clearly defined channel does not exist; the path of flooding is unpredictable and indeterminate; and velocity flow may be evident.
AREA OF SPECIAL FLOOD HAZARD
The land in the floodplain within a community subject to a one-percent or greater chance of flooding in any given year.
BASE FLOOD
The flood having a one-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year.
BASEMENT
Any area of the building having its subgrade (below ground level) on all sides.
[Added 10-13-1987 by Ord. No. 1377-87]
BREAKAWAY WALL
A wall that is not part of the structural support of the building and is intended through its design and construction to collapse under specific lateral loading forces without causing damage to the elevated portion of the chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year.
[Added 10-13-1987 by Ord. No. 1377-87]
DEVELOPMENT
Any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to buildings or other structures, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation or drilling operations or storage of equipment or materials located within the area of special flood hazard.
[Amended 8-15-1995 by Ord. No. 1608-95]
ELEVATED BUILDING
A nonbasement built, in case of a building in an area of special flood hazard, to have the top of the elevated floor or in the case of a building in a coastal high-hazard area to have the bottom of the lowest horizontal structural member of the elevated floor elevated above the ground level by means of piling, columns (posts and piers) or shear walls parallel to the flow of the water; and adequately anchored so as not to impair the structural integrity of the building during a flood of up to the magnitude of the base flood. In an area of special flood hazard, "elevated building" shall also include a building elevated by means of fill or solid foundation perimeter walls with openings sufficient to facilitate unimpeded movement of floodwaters. In areas of coastal high hazard, "elevated building" shall also include a building otherwise meeting the definition of "elevated building" even though the lower area is enclosed by means of breakaway walls.
[Added 10-13-1987 by Ord. No. 1377-87]
EXCEPTION
A grant of relief from the requirements of this chapter which permits construction in a manner that would otherwise be prohibited by this chapter, but only if permitted pursuant to § 108-15 et seq. hereof.
FLOOD or FLOODING
A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from the overflow of inland or tidal waters and/or the unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.
FLOOD INSURANCE RATE MAP (FIRM)
The official map on which the Federal Insurance Administration has delineated both the areas of special flood hazard and the risk premium zones applicable to the community.
FLOOD INSURANCE STUDY
The official report provided in which the Federal Insurance Administration has provided flood profiles, as well as the Flood Boundary-Floodway Map and the water surface elevation of the base flood.
FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT REGULATION
Zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, building codes, health regulations, special purpose ordinances (such as floodplain ordinance, grading ordinance and erosion control ordinance) and other applications of police power. The term describes such state or local regulations, in any combination thereof, which provide standards for the purpose of flood damage prevention and reduction.
[Added 8-15-1995 by Ord. No. 1608-95]
FLOODWAY
The channel of a river or other watercourse and the adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than 0.2 foot.
HISTORIC STRUCTURE
[Added 8-15-1995 by Ord. No. 1608-95]
Any structure that is:
(1) 
Listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places (a listing maintained by the Department of the Interior) or preliminarily determined by the Secretary of the Interior as meeting the requirements for individual listing on the National Register;
(2) 
Certified or preliminarily determined by the Secretary of the Interior as contributing to the historical significance of a registered historic district preliminarily determined by the secretary to qualify as a registered historic district;
(3) 
Individually listed on a state inventory of historic places in states with historic preservation programs which have been approved by the Secretary of the Interior; or
(4) 
Individually listed on a local inventory of historic places in communities with historic reservation programs that have been certified either:
(a) 
By an approved state program as approved by the Secretary of the Interior; or
(b) 
Directly by the Secretary of the Interior in states without approved programs.
LOWEST FLOOR
The lowest floor of the lowest enclosed area (including basement). An unfinished or flood-resistant enclosure, usable solely for the parking of vehicles, building access or storage in an area other than a basement is not considered a building's lowest floor, provided that such enclosure is not built so to render the structure in violation of other applicable nonelevation design requirements.
[Added 10-13-1987 by Ord. No. 1377-87]
MANUFACTURED HOME
A structure, transportable in one or more sections, which is built on a permanent chassis and is designed for use with or without a permanent foundation when attached to the required utilities. The term "manufactured home" does not include a "recreational vehicle."
[Added 10-13-1987 by Ord. No. 1377-87; amended 8-15-1995 by Ord. No. 1608-95]
MANUFACTURED HOME PARK or MANUFACTURED HOME SUBDIVISION
A parcel (or contiguous parcels of land) divided into two or more manufactured home lots for rent or sale.
[Added 10-13-1987 by Ord. No. 1377-87]
NEW CONSTRUCTION
Structures for which the start of construction commenced on or after the effective date of this chapter.
RECREATIONAL VEHICLE
A vehicle which is built on a single chassis; 400 square feet or less when measured at the longest horizontal projections; designed to be self-propelled or permanently towable by a light-duty truck; and designed primarily not for use as a permanent dwelling but as temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, travel or seasonal use.
[Added 8-15-1998 by Ord. No. 1608-95]
START OF CONSTRUCTION
For other than new construction or substantial improvements under the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (P.L. No. 97-348), includes substantial improvements and means the date the building permit was issued, provided that the actual start of construction, repair, reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, placement or other improvement was within 180 days of the permit date. The actual start means either the first placement of permanent construction of a structure on a site such as the pouring of a slab or footings, the installation of piles, the construction of columns or any work beyond the stage of excavation or the placement of a manufactured home on a foundation. Permanent construction does not include land preparation, such as clearing, grading and filling, nor does it include the installation of streets and/or walkways, nor does it include excavation for a basement, footings or piers or foundations or the erection of temporary forms, nor does it include the installation on the property of accessory buildings, such as garages or sheds not occupied as dwelling units or not part of the main structure. For a substantial improvement, the actual start of construction means the first alteration of any wall, ceiling, floor or other structural part of a building, whether or not that alteration effects the external dimensions of the building.
[Amended 10-13-1987 by Ord. No. 1377-87; 8-15-1995 by Ord. No. 1608-95]
STRUCTURE
A walled and roofed building, a mobile home or a gas or liquid storage tank that is principally above ground.
SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGE
Damage of any origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.
[Added 8-15-1995 by Ord. No. 1608-95]
SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENT
Any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvement of a structure, the cost of which exceeds 50% of the market value of the structure before the "start of construction" of the improvement. This term includes structures which have incurred "substantial damage," regardless of the actual repair work performed. The term does not, however, include either:
(1) 
Any project for improvement of a structure to correct existing violations of state or local health, sanitary or safety code specifications which have been identified by the local code enforcement officer and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions; or
(2) 
Any alteration of an historic structure, provided that the alteration will not preclude the structures continued designation as an historic structure.
[Amended 8-15-1995 by Ord. No. 1608-95]
This chapter shall apply to all areas of special flood hazard within the jurisdiction of the Borough of Fair Lawn.
[Amended 8-15-1995 by Ord. No. 1608-95; 12-16-1998 by Ord. No. 1745-98; 9-13-2005 by Ord. No. 2026-2005]
The areas of special flood hazard identified by the Federal Insurance Administration in a scientific and engineering report entitled "The Flood Insurance Study for the Borough of Fair Lawn," dated September 30, 2005, with accompanying Flood Insurance Rate Maps, is hereby adopted by reference and declared to be a part of this chapter. The Flood Insurance Study is on file in the office of the Borough Engineer.
No structure or land shall hereafter be constructed, located, extended, converted or altered without full compliance with the terms of this chapter and other applicable regulations. Violations of the provisions of this chapter by failure to comply with any of its requirements including violations of conditions and safeguards established in connection with conditions shall constitute a disorderly persons offense. Any person who violates this chapter or fails to comply with any of its requirements shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not more than $200 or imprisoned for not more than 30 days, or both, for each violation and in addition shall pay all costs and expenses involved in the case. Nothing herein contained shall prevent the Borough of Fair Lawn from taking such other lawful action as is necessary to prevent or remedy any violation.
This chapter is not intended to repeal, abrogate or impair any existing easements, covenants or deed restrictions. However, where this chapter and other ordinance, easement, covenant or deed restriction conflict or overlap, whichever imposes the more stringent restrictions shall prevail.
In the interpretation and application of this chapter, all provisions shall be:
A. 
Considered as minimum requirements;
B. 
Liberally construed in favor of the governing body; and
C. 
Deemed neither to limit nor repeal any other powers granted under state statutes.
The degree of flood protection required by this chapter is considered reasonable for regulatory purposes and is based on scientific and engineering considerations. Larger floods can and will occur on rare occasions. Flood heights may be increased by manmade or natural causes. This chapter does not imply that land outside the area of special flood hazards or uses permitted within such areas will be free from flooding or flood damages. This chapter shall not create liability on the part of the Borough of Fair Lawn, any officer or employee thereof or the Federal Insurance Administration, for any flood damages that result from reliance on this chapter or any administrative decision lawfully made thereunder.
A development permit shall be obtained before construction or development begins within any area of special flood hazard established in § 108-7. Application for a development permit shall be made on forms furnished by the Borough Engineer and may include, but not be limited to, plans in duplicate drawn to scale showing the nature, location, dimensions and elevations of the area in question; existing or proposed structures, fill, storage of materials, drainage facilities; and the location of the foregoing. Specifically, the following information is required:
A. 
Elevation in relation to mean sea level of the lowest floor (including basement) of all structures;
B. 
Elevation in relation to mean sea level to which any structure has been floodproofed;
C. 
Certification by a registered professional engineer or architect that the floodproofing methods for any nonresidential structure meet the floodproofing criteria in § 108-17A; and
D. 
Description of the extent to which any watercourse will be altered or relocated as a result of proposed development subject to an approved Stream Encroachment Permit from the NJDEP.
The Borough Engineer is hereby appointed to administer and implement this chapter by granting or denying development permit applications in accordance with its provisions.
Duties of the Borough Engineer shall include, but not be limited to:
A. 
Permit review.
(1) 
Review all development permits to determine that the permit requirements of this chapter have been satisfied.
(2) 
Review all development permits to determine that all necessary permits have been obtained from those federal, state or local governmental agencies from which prior approval is required.
(3) 
Review all development permits to determine if the proposed development is located in the floodway. If located in the floodway, assure that the encroachment provisions of § 108-18A are met.
B. 
Information to be obtained and maintained.
(1) 
Obtain and record the actual elevation (in relation to mean sea level) of the lowest habitable floor (including basement) all of new or substantially improved structures and whether or not the structure contains a basement.
(2) 
For all new substantially improved floodproofed structures:
(a) 
Verify and record the actual elevation (in relation to mean sea level); and
(b) 
Maintain the floodproofing certifications required in § 108-12C.
(3) 
Maintain for public inspection all records pertaining to the provisions of this chapter.
C. 
Alteration of watercourses.
(1) 
Notify adjacent communities and the NJDEP prior to any alteration or relocation of a watercourse and submit evidence of such notification to the Federal Insurance Administration.
(2) 
Require that maintenance is provided within the altered or relocated portion of said watercourse so that the flood-carrying capacity is not diminished.
D. 
Interpretation of FIRM boundaries. Make interpretations where needed, as to the exact location of the boundaries of the areas of special flood hazards (for example where there appears to be a conflict between a mapped boundary and actual field conditions). The person contesting the location of the boundary shall be given a reasonable opportunity to appeal the interpretation as provided in § 108-15.
A. 
Appeal Board.
(1) 
The Planning Board as established by the Borough of Fair Lawn shall hear and decide appeals and requests for exceptions from the requirements of this chapter.
(2) 
The Planning Board shall hear and decide appeals when it is alleged there is an error in any requirement, decision or determination made by the Borough Engineer in the enforcement or administration of this chapter.
(3) 
Those aggrieved by the decision of the Planning Board, or any taxpayer, may appeal such decision to the Borough Council as provided in N.J.S.A. 40:55D-17.
(4) 
In passing upon such applications, the Planning Board shall consider all technical evaluations, all relevant factors, standards specified in other sections of this chapter, and:
(a) 
The danger that materials may be swept onto other lands to the injury of others;
(b) 
The danger to life and property due to flooding or erosion damage;
(c) 
The susceptibility of the proposed facility and its contents to flood damage and the effect of such damage on the individual owner;
(d) 
The importance of the services provided by the proposed facility to the community;
(e) 
The necessity to the facility of a waterfront location, where applicable;
(f) 
The availability of alternative locations within the applicant's property for the proposed use which are not subject to flooding or erosion damage;
(g) 
The compatibility of the proposed use with existing and anticipated development;
(h) 
The relationship of the proposed use to the comprehensive plan and floodplain management program of that area;
(i) 
The safety of access to the property in times of flood for ordinary and emergency vehicles;
(j) 
The expected heights, velocity, duration, rate of rise and sediment transport of the floodwaters and the effects of wave action, if applicable, expected at the site; and
(k) 
The costs of providing governmental services during and after flood conditions, including maintenance and repair of public utilities and facilities such as sewer, gas, electrical and water systems and streets and bridges.
(5) 
Upon consideration of the factors of Subsection A(4) and the purposes of this chapter, the Planning Board may attach such conditions to the granting of exceptions as it deems necessary to further the purposes of this chapter.
(6) 
The Borough Engineer shall maintain the record of all appeal actions, including technical information and report any exceptions to the Federal Insurance Administration upon request.
B. 
Conditions for exceptions.
(1) 
Generally, exceptions may be issued for new construction and substantial improvements to be erected on a lot of 1/2 acre or less in size contiguous to and surrounded by lots with existing structures constructed below the base flood level, providing items in Subsection A(4) have been fully considered. As the lot size increases beyond the 1/2 acre, the technical justification required for issuing the exceptions increases.
(2) 
Exceptions may be issued for the repair or rehabilitation of historic structures upon a determination that the proposed repair or rehabilitation will not preclude the structure's continued designation as a historic structure and the exception is the minimum necessary to preserve the historic character and design of the structure.
[Amended 8-15-1995 by Ord. No. 1608-95]
(3) 
Exceptions shall not be issued within any designated floodway if any increase in flood levels during the base flood discharge would result.
(4) 
Exceptions shall only be issued upon a determination that the exception is the minimum necessary, considering the flood hazard, to afford relief.
(5) 
Exceptions shall only be issued upon:
(a) 
A showing of good and sufficient cause;
(b) 
A determination that failure to grant the exception would result in exceptional hardship to the applicant; and
(c) 
A determination that the granting of an exception will not result in increased flood heights, additional threats to public safety, extraordinary public expense, create nuisances, cause fraud on or victimization of the public as identified in Subsection A(4) or conflict with existing local laws or ordinances.
(6) 
Any applicant to whom an exception is granted shall be given written notice that the structure will be permitted to be built with a lowest floor elevation below the base flood elevation and that the probable cost of flood insurance will be commensurate with the increased risk resulting from the reduced lowest floor elevation.
In all areas of special flood hazards the following standards are required:
A. 
Anchoring. All new construction and substantial improvements shall be anchored to prevent flotation, collapse or lateral movement of the structure.
B. 
Construction materials and methods.
(1) 
All new construction and substantial improvements shall be constructed with materials and utility equipment resistant to flood damage.
(2) 
All new construction and substantial improvements shall be constructed using methods and practices that minimize flood damage.
C. 
Utilities.
(1) 
All new and replacement water supply systems shall be designed to minimize or eliminate infiltration of floodwaters into the systems;
(2) 
New and replacement sanitary sewage systems shall be designed to minimize or eliminate infiltration of floodwaters into the systems and discharge from the systems into floodwaters; and,
(3) 
On-site waste disposal systems shall be located to avoid impairment to them or contamination from them during flooding.
(4) 
Electrical, heating, ventilation, plumbing and air-conditioning equipment and other service facilities shall be designed and/or located so as to prevent water from entering or accumulating within the components during conditions of flooding.
[Added 10-13-1987 by Ord. No. 1377-87]
D. 
Subdivision proposals.
(1) 
All subdivision proposals shall be consistent with the need to minimize flood damage;
(2) 
All subdivision proposals shall have public utilities and facilities such as sewer, gas, electrical and water systems located and constructed to minimize flood damage;
(3) 
All subdivision proposals shall have adequate drainage provided to reduce exposure to flood damage; and
(4) 
Base flood elevation data shall be provided for all major subdivisions.
E. 
Enclosure openings. For all new construction and substantial improvements, fully enclosed areas below the lowest floor that are subject to flooding shall be designed to automatically equalize hydrostatic flood forces on exterior walls by allowing for the entry and exit of floodwaters. Designs for meeting this requirement must either be certified by a registered professional engineer or architect or must meet or exceed the following minimum criteria: A minimum of two openings having a total net area of not less than one square inch for every square foot of enclosed area subject to flooding shall be provided. The bottom of all openings shall be no higher than one foot above grade. Openings may be equipped with screens, louvers or other coverings or devices provided that they permit the automatic entry and exit of floodwaters.
[Added 10-13-1987 by Ord. No. 1377-87]
In all areas of special flood hazards where base flood elevation data have been provided as set forth in § 108-8 or in 108-14B, the following standards are required:
A. 
Residential construction. New construction and substantial improvement for any residential structure shall have the lowest floor, including basement, elevated to or above base flood elevation. In the AO Zone, the base flood elevation is to be considered the crown of the nearest street or the depth number specified on the FIRM.
B. 
Nonresidential construction. New construction and substantial improvement of any commercial, industrial or other nonresidential structure shall either have the lowest floor, including basement elevated to the level of the base flood elevation; or, together with attendant utility and sanitary facilities shall:
(1) 
Be floodproofed so that below the base flood level the structure is watertight with walls substantially impermeable to the passage of water;
(2) 
Have structural components capable of resisting hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads and effects of buoyancy; and
(3) 
Be certified by a registered professional engineer or architect that the design and methods of construction are in accordance with accepted standards of practice for meeting the applicable provisions of this subsection. Such certification shall be provided to the official as set forth in § 108-13.
[Amended 10-13-1987 by Ord. No. 1377-87]
C. 
In the AO Zone, the base flood elevation is to be considered the crown of the nearest street or the depth number specified in the FIRM.
Located within areas of special flood hazard established in § 108-7 are areas designated as floodways. Since the floodway is an extremely hazardous area due to the velocity of floodwaters which carry debris, potential projectiles and erosion potential, the following provisions apply:
A. 
Prohibit encroachments, including fill, new construction, substantial improvements and other development unless a technical evaluation demonstrates that encroachments shall not result in any increase in flood levels during the occurrence of the base flood discharge. An approved stream encroachment permit issued by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection shall be considered as evidence that such an evaluation has been made.
B. 
If § 108-14A is satisfied, all new construction and substantial improvements shall comply with all applicable flood hazard reduction provisions of §§ 108-16 through 108-17.