Township of Montville, NJ
Morris County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
Section 30 of the Highlands Act identifies as exempt specific activities, improvements and development projects affecting lands within the Highlands Region. Such activities, improvements and projects may be proposed as a component of any type of land use application submitted to the municipality for approval, including but not limited to zoning permit applications, building permit applications, and applications for development (as defined at § 230A-2.2). Any such qualifying activity, improvement or development project is exempt, with regard specifically to that activity, improvement or development project, from the requirements of the Highlands Act, the Highlands RMP, the NJDEP Preservation Area Rules, and any amendments to the Township's master plan, development regulations, or other regulations adopted pursuant to the approval of Township's petition for plan conformance by the Highlands Council. Such an exemption specifically applies to any Highlands Area land use ordinance adopted by the Township pursuant to the Highlands Council's approval of Township's petition for plan conformance.
B. 
Where any application submitted to the municipality for approval proposes to rely upon a Highlands Act exemption, the applicant must, as a condition of application completeness, and prior to review or approval of the application by the applicable municipal authority, provide sufficient evidence that the proposed activity, improvement, or development project in fact qualifies as a Highlands Act exemption. Such evidence shall consist of either a state agency exemption determination or a municipal exemption determination (See §§ 230A-4.1.1 and 230A-4.1.2 below.), indicating that the proposed activity, improvement, or development project qualifies for a Highlands Act exemption.
State agency exemption determinations shall consist of a Highlands applicability determination issued by the NJDEP. State agency determinations may be requested with regard to any Highlands Act exemption; however, for applications involving any exemption not identified at § 230A-4.2 below, a state agency exemption determination is required. Any applicant seeking a formal exemption determination for a capital or other project of any state entity or local government unit, or for any other publicly owned or controlled land or facility, must also request a state agency exemption determination.
For an application involving any of the specific exemptions listed in Section 4.2 below, the applicant may request a Municipal Exemption Determination. The applicant may rely upon the findings of a Municipal Exemption Determination to the same extent as would apply to an exemption determination issued by the NJDEP.
Effective as of the date on which the municipality receives written authorization from the Highlands Council to proceed, an applicant may seek a municipal exemption determination for the Highlands Act exemptions listed hereunder.
A. 
Exemption 1. The construction of a single-family dwelling, for an individual's own use or the use of an immediate family member, on a lot owned by the individual on the date of enactment of the Highlands Act (August 10, 2004) or on a lot for which the individual entered into a hinding contract of sale to purchase on or before May 17, 2004.
B. 
Exemption 2. The construction of a single-family dwelling on a lot in existence on the date of enactment of the Highlands Act (August 10, 2004), provided that the construction does not result in the ultimate disturbance of one acre or more of land or a cumulative increase in impervious surface by 1/4 acre or more.
(1) 
A municipal exemption determination indicating that an applicant qualifies under Highlands Act Exemption 2 shall require approval and filing of a deed notice along with a site plan delineating the total exempt area and the extent of the disturbance recognized in the municipal exemption determination. (See § 230A-4.4 below.) Municipal exemption determinations in such instances shall not take effect until the applicant has provided proof of filing of the approved deed notice.
C. 
Exemption 4. The reconstruction of any building or structure for any reason within 125% of the footprint of the lawfully existing impervious surfaces on the site, provided that the reconstruction does not increase the lawfully existing impervious surface by 1/4 acre or more. This exemption shall not apply to the reconstruction of any agricultural or horticultural building or structure for a nonagricultural or nonhorticultural use.
(1) 
For purposes of this chapter, this exemption shall not be construed to permit multiple footprint expansions of 125%, but rather to permit one or more reconstruction activities cumulatively resulting in a maximum increase of 125% in the footprint of the impervious surfaces lawfully existing on the site, provided they do not cumulatively exceed the one-quarter-acre limitation. Any determination of whether the expansion of impervious cover meets the statutory criteria for the exemption must account for the preexisting impervious cover, and such expansion must be contiguous to the location of the existing impervious cover. See In re August 16, 2007 Determination of NJDEP ex rel. Christ Church, 414 N.J. Super. 592 (App. Div. 2010), certif. denied, 205 N.J. 16 (2010).
(2) 
The applicable date of lawful existence shall be August 10, 2004, the date of enactment of the Highlands Act.
D. 
Exemption 5. Any improvement to a single-family dwelling in existence on the date of enactment of the Highlands Act (August 10, 2004), including but not limited to an addition, garage, shed, driveway, porch, deck, patio, swimming pool or septic system.
E. 
Exemption 6. Any improvement, for nonresidential purposes, to a place of worship owned by a nonprofit entity, society or association, or association organized primarily for religious purposes, or a public or private school, or a hospital in existence on the date of enactment of the Highlands Act (August 10, 2004), including but not limited to new structures, an addition to an existing building or structure, a site improvement, or a sanitary facility.
F. 
Exemption 7. An activity conducted in accordance with an approved woodland management plan pursuant to Section 3 of the Farmland Assessment Act, P.L. 1964, c. 48 (N.J.S.A. 54:4-23.3) or a forest stewardship plan approved pursuant to Section 3 of P.L. 2009, c. 256 (the State Park and Forestry Resources Act, N.J.S.A. 13:1L-31), or the normal harvesting of forest products in accordance with a forest management plan or forest stewardship plan approved by the State Forester.
G. 
Exemption 8. The construction or extension of trails with nonimpervious surfaces on publicly owned lands or on privately owned lands where a conservation or recreational use easement has been established.
Municipal exemption determinations regarding Highlands Act exemptions shall be issued by the Township Planner, Engineer, and/or Zoning Officer. The exemption designee(s) shall be authorized to issue municipal exemption determinations on behalf of the municipality, and shall only begin to do so after satisfactory completion of a Highlands Council training class for which the individual(s) has/have received formal certification from the Highlands Council.
In the event of programmatic changes, updated information, or modifications to procedures, updated training certification may be required of exemption designees in order to maintain qualifications for providing municipal exemption determinations. The Highlands Council will provide training modules on an as-needed basis, to provide base training to new employees, and/or to further the expertise of already-certified individuals. Exemption designees and the municipalities they serve will be advised of any need for upgraded training, which will be provided and funded by the Highlands Council.
For the duration of any period during which the municipality is without a qualified exemption designee(s) due to changes in personnel or other extenuating circumstances, applicants seeking Highlands Act exemption determinations shall be referred to the NJDEP for a state agency determination pursuant to § 230A-4.1.1, above.
Requests for municipal exemption determinations shall be submitted on forms provided by the Land Use Department and shall be accompanied by sufficient information and documentary evidence to demonstrate whether the proposed activity, improvement or development project qualifies for the applicable exemption. Required submission materials applicable to each exemption appear at § 230A-4.7, below.
The exemption designee shall review the application and all accompanying materials to determine whether sufficient information has been submitted to make a determination on the application. In the event of a finding that the application is incomplete, the exemption designee shall, within 10 calendar days of receipt, issue such findings, in writing, to the applicant, indicating what information is required to properly consider the application.
The exemption designee shall issue municipal exemption determinations within 15 calendar days of receipt of a complete application. The exemption designee may consult with the NJDEP or the Executive Director (or applicable designee) of the Highlands Council, as needed, in making any exemption determination, however. In such circumstance, the exemption designee shall seek such assistance within the fifteen-day period and shall issue the determination within at least 10 calendar days of receiving the requested guidance. In no case shall failure to meet this date constitute approval of the exemption.
All municipal exemption determinations shall be provided in writing, shall certify to the applicability or inapplicability of the exemption, and shall include a statement of the rationale for the decision. Any municipal exemption determination certifying to the applicability of Highlands Act exemption 2 shall be contingent upon submission of proof of filing of the required deed notice, as set forth at § 230A-4.4.5, below.
The exemption designee shall provide copies of all municipal exemption determinations, including a copy of the full application, to the Highlands Council and to the NJDEP within 10 business days of issuance.
Any municipal exemption determination that certifies to the applicability of Highlands Act Exemption 2 (§ 230A-4.2 above) shall be issued conditionally, pending fulfillment of the requirement that a deed notice be recorded in the office of the County Clerk or Register, as applicable, indicating the extent of the exemption that has been consumed. The deed notice shall incorporate each of the components listed below, and the applicant shall provide a copy of the filed deed notice to the Highlands Council within five business days of filing.
A. 
Clear identification of the name(s) and address(es) of the owner(s) in fee of the property;
B. 
Designated tax block and lot number(s), street address(es), municipality and county of location of the property;
C. 
Reference to the municipal exemption determination (by date, numbering if applicable) issued and under which the deed notice is being filed;
D. 
Description of the approved area of ultimate disturbance and the impervious surface area, with verification that these remain below the statutory limits;
E. 
For properties of one acre or more in area, metes and bounds delineation indicating the portion of the property for which the ultimate disturbance has been authorized;
F. 
Agreement to abide by the ultimate disturbance and impervious surface limits imposed, any furtherance thereof rendering the municipal exemption determination null and void; and
G. 
Notice that the owner(s) and subsequent owner(s) and lessees shall cause all leases, grants, and other written transfers of interest in the property to contain provisions expressly requiring all holders thereof to take the property subject to the limitations therein set forth.
A municipal exemption determination may be appealed by any affected person/entity by filing a notice of appeal within 20 calendar days of issuance or receipt of said determination, whichever is later, specifying the grounds therefor. Appeals must be filed with the NJDEP. All appeals shall be copied to the exemption designee, who shall immediately transmit to the NJDEP copies of the notice of appeal, the municipal exemption determination application, and all supplemental materials constituting the record that the exemption designee relied upon in issuing the municipal exemption determination. Where the municipal exemption determination deems an activity, improvement or development project exempt, the filing of an appeal to the NJDEP shall stay all proceedings in furtherance of its approval by the municipality.
Issuance of a municipal exemption determination that certifies to the applicability of a Highlands Act exemption shall recognize the applicant's exemption from the provisions of the RMP, NJDEP Preservation Area Rules, and any municipal ordinances and requirements adopted under the authority of the Highlands Act to achieve Highlands Plan conformance. The exemption is restricted solely to the extent of the specified activity, improvement, or development project as described in the language of the Highlands Act exemption, or to any lesser activity, improvement, or development project as proposed and certified through a municipal exemption determination application. Any activity, improvement, or development project, or any part thereof, that is not specifically listed as an exemption or exceeds the limits of an exemption, remains subject to all of the above regulatory programs to the full extent of the respective applicability of each. Issuance of a Highlands exemption determination shall not relieve the applicant from securing all other required federal, state, or local approvals.
Exemption No.
Fee Amount
1
$35
2
$50
4
$100
5
$35
6
$35
7
$50
8
No fee
All applications shall be accompanied by the municipal exemption determination application form, the applicable fees, and the information listed below, as applicable to the particular exemption or exemption(s) being sought by the applicant. All references to professional preparers indicated herein shall be construed to include any and all qualified individuals licensed, certified, or otherwise eligible and authorized to complete such work, in accordance with the applicable laws and legal requirements of the State of New Jersey, including but not limited to the MLUL (N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1 et seq.) and Title 13 of the New Jersey Administrative Code, Law and Public Safety. Where the exemption designee finds that any submission item is not necessary to address the evidentiary requirements that must be satisfied for issuance of an exemption determination, either because alternate items have been provided by the applicant or the relevant information is readily available through records, maps, or any other documents on file in the offices of the municipality, the exemption designee may waive the applicant's obligation to submit such information.
A. 
Exemption 1.
(1) 
A copy of a deed, closing or settlement statement, title policy, tax record, mortgage statement or any other official document showing that the lot was legally owned by the applicant on or before August 10, 2004, and indicating the lot and block as designated by the municipal tax mapping, the municipality and county in which the lot is located, and the street address;
(2) 
If the applicant did not own the lot, a copy of the binding contract of sale executed by the seller and the applicant on or before May 17, 2004, for the lot on which the house is to be constructed; and
(3) 
A certification by the applicant stating that the single-family dwelling proposed for construction on the lot specified and described therein by tax lot and block, municipality and county of location, and street address is intended for the applicant's own use or the use of an immediate family member as identified therein by name and relationship to the applicant.
B. 
Exemption 2.
(1) 
A copy of the recorded deed or plat showing that the lot was created on or before August 10, 2004, or proof of subdivision approval on or before August 10, 2004;
(2) 
A property survey certified by a licensed New Jersey professional land surveyor indicating the property boundary lines and overall lot size, and showing what structures currently exist on the lot, if any;
(3) 
A parcel plan certified by a licensed New Jersey professional engineer showing all existing and proposed development, including all structures, grading, clearing, impervious surface and disturbance, and including the calculations supporting the claim that impervious surfaces and areas of disturbance are within the limits necessary for Exemption 2; and
(4) 
A metes and bounds description of the area of the lot to be disturbed, limited to less than one acre and a draft conservation restriction or deed notice (pursuant to § 230A-4.4.5, above) to cover the balance of the lot.
C. 
Exemption 4.
(1) 
A parcel plan certified by a licensed New Jersey professional engineer depicting:
(a) 
All existing property improvements, including all structures, grading, clearing, impervious surfaces and limits of disturbance, lawfully existing on the site as of August 10, 2004; and
(b) 
All proposed development, including all structures, impervious surfaces, clearing limits, and limits of disturbance, including grading.
(2) 
A copy of any official documentation of the original date of construction of the building or otherwise establishing the lawfulness of existing impervious surfaces.
D. 
Exemption 5.
(1) 
A copy of any official documentation proving the single-family dwelling was in existence on August 10, 2004;
(2) 
A description of the proposed improvement; and
(3) 
A certification from the applicant that the property and all improvements will continue to be used for single-family dwelling purposes.
E. 
Exemption 6.
(1) 
A copy of any official documentation indicating that the place of worship, public or private school or hospital was in existence on August 10, 2004;
(2) 
For improvements to a place of worship, documentation showing that the entity, society or association, or association organized primarily for religious purposes has nonprofit status;
(3) 
A site plan certified by a licensed New Jersey professional engineer depicting:
(a) 
All existing property improvements, including all structures, grading, clearing, impervious surfaces and limits of disturbance, existing on the site on August 10, 2004; and
(b) 
All proposed development, including all structures, impervious surfaces, clearing limits, and limits of disturbance, including grading.
F. 
Exemption 7.
(1) 
For a private landowner with an approved woodland management plan or forest stewardship plan:
(a) 
A copy of the applicant's tax bill showing that the site has farmland assessment tax status under the New Jersey Farmland Assessment Act, N.J.S.A. 54:4-23.1 et seq., if applicable;
(b) 
A brief description of the total area of woodlands that is the subject of the approved woodland management plan or forest stewardship plan;
(c) 
A brief description of the length of time that the area to be managed has been in use for woodland management or forest stewardship plan; and
(d) 
A copy of the approved woodland management plan or forest stewardship plan.
(2) 
For the normal harvesting of forest products in accordance with a forest management plan or forest stewardship plan approved by the State Forester:
(a) 
A brief description of the total area where the normal harvesting of forest products occurs;
(b) 
A brief description of the length of time that the area to be managed has been in use for normal harvesting of forest products; and
(c) 
A copy of a forest management plan or forest stewardship plan approved by the State Forester.
G. 
Exemption 8.
(1) 
A site plan certified by a licensed New Jersey professional engineer showing the proposed trail construction with details, including the location and width of existing and proposed trails and those off-site trails to which they connect, if any;
(2) 
A written description of the non-impervious materials to be used; and
(3) 
For privately owned property, a copy of a deed for the property and the conservation or recreational use easement on the property.