This chapter shall be known and cited as the "Township of Chester Highlands Area Exemption Ordinance."
The purpose of this chapter is to set forth the procedural and substantive requirements by which the municipality will issue Highlands Act exemption determinations. Such determinations pertain only to Highlands Act Exemptions 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Highlands Act exemption determinations indicate whether proposed activities, improvements or development projects affecting lands located within the Township Highlands Area are exempt from the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act (Highlands Act, N.J.S.A. 13:20-1 et seq.), and are therefore exempt from the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council's (Highlands Council) Regional Master Plan, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (NJDEP) Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act Rules (Preservation Area Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:38-1 et seq.), and from any amendments to the Township's Master Plan, development regulations, or other regulations adopted pursuant to the approval of the Township's Petition for Plan Conformance by the Highlands Council.
The provisions of this chapter pertain to activities, improvements and development projects involving lands located within the Township Highlands Area. The Highlands Area comprises that portion of the municipality for which the applicable provisions of the Township Master Plan, land use ordinances and other pertinent regulations have been deemed by the Highlands Council to be in conformance with the Highlands Regional Master Plan (RMP). (See § 106-9A.) The provisions of this chapter shall not be construed to alleviate any person or entity from the provisions and requirements of any other applicable ordinances, rules, or regulations of the municipality, or from any other applicable law, regulation, or requirement of any county, state, or federal authority having jurisdiction. Nor shall the provisions of this chapter deprive any person or entity from seeking a Highlands exemption determination from the NJDEP or the Highlands Council.
This chapter is adopted under the authority of the Highlands Act and the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1 et seq.). In the Highlands Act, the Legislature identified numerous categories of activities that are exempt from the Act, the RMP, the Preservation Area Rules, and any amendments to a master plan, development regulations, or other regulations adopted by a local government to conform them with the RMP. See N.J.S.A. 13:20-28. The Legislature granted the Highlands Council the authority to administer the plan conformance process and to approve, reject, or approve with conditions municipal plan conformance petitions. See N.J.S.A. 13:20-14 and 13:20-15. The Legislature, through the MLUL, granted authority to New Jersey municipalities to govern land use and development within their borders and, through the Highlands Act, established requirements for Highlands municipalities to conform their land use and development regulations with the RMP. In a July 19, 2012, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Highlands Council and the NJDEP, the Council and the NJDEP recognized the circumstances in which it would be appropriate for conforming, Highlands Council-certified municipalities to make determinations regarding specified Highlands Act exemptions.
If any section, sentence, clause or phrase of this chapter is held to be invalid or unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisdiction, such holding shall in no way affect the validity of the ordinance as a whole, or of any other portion thereof.
This chapter shall take effect after final passage and publication in the manner required by law.