[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and council of the Borough of Somerville 8-19-13 by Ord. No. 2423. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to designate riparian zones, and to provide for land use regulation therein in order to protect the streams, lakes, and other surface water bodies of Borough of Somerville and to comply with N.J.A.C. 7:15-5.25(g)3, which requires municipalities to adopt an ordinance that prevents new disturbance for projects or activities in riparian zones as described herein. Compliance with the riparian zone requirements of this chapter does not constitute compliance with the riparian zone or buffer requirements imposed under any other Federal, State or local statute, regulation or ordinance.
The definitions of the words and/or terms utilized in this chapter shall be as defined or described in the Water Quality Management Planning rules, N.J.A.C. 7:15, the Stormwater Management Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:8, and/or Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:13, as they exist as of the effective date of this chapter and as they may be amended over time.
Except as provided in Sections 134-4 and 134-5 below, riparian zones adjacent to all surface water bodies shall be protected from avoidable disturbance and shall be delineated as follows:
The riparian zone shall be three hundred (300) feet wide along both sides of any Category One water (C1 water), and all upstream tributaries situated within the same HUC 14 watershed.
The riparian zone shall be one hundred fifty (150) feet wide along both sides of the following waters not designated as C1 waters:
Any trout production water and all upstream waters (including tributaries);
Any trout maintenance water and all upstream waters (including tributaries) within one (1) linear mile as measured along the length of the regulated water;
Any segment of a water flowing through an area that contains documented habitat for a threatened or endangered species of plant or animal, which is critically dependent on the surface water body for survival, and all upstream waters (including tributaries) within one (1) linear mile as measured along the length of the regulated water; and
Any segment of a water flowing through an area that contains acid producing soils.
For all other surface water bodies, a riparian zone of fifty (50) feet wide shall be maintained along both sides of the water.
If a discernible bank is not present along a surface water body, the portion of the riparian zone outside the surface water body is measured landward as follows:
Along a linear fluvial or tidal water, such as a stream, the riparian zone is measured landward of the feature's centerline;
Along a non-linear fluvial water, such as a lake or pond, the riparian zone is measured landward of the normal water surface limit;
Along a non-linear tidal water, such as a bay or inlet, the riparian zone is measured landward of the mean high water line; and
Along an amorphously-shaped feature such as a wetland complex, through which water flows but which lacks a discernible channel, the riparian zone is measured landward of the feature's centerline.
The applicant or designated representative shall be responsible for the initial determination of the presence of a riparian zone on a site, and for identifying the area of the riparian zone on any plan submitted to the Borough of Somerville in conjunction with an application for a construction permit, subdivision, land development, or other improvement that requires plan submissions or permits. This initial determination shall be subject to review and approval by the Municipal Engineer, governing body, or its appointed representative, and, where required by State regulation, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
To the extent allowed by the Stormwater Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:8), the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:13), and the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:38), new disturbances for projects or activities in the riparian zone established by this chapter may be allowed through the Zoning Board of Adjustment or Planning Board review and approval of a variance, provided the disturbance is proposed to be located on a pre-existing lot (existing as of the effective date of this chapter) when there is insufficient room outside the riparian zone for the proposed use otherwise permitted by the underlying zoning; there is no other reasonable or prudent alternative to placement in the riparian zone, including obtaining variances from setback or other requirements that would allow conformance with the riparian zone requirements; and upon proof by virtue of submission of appropriate maps, drawings, reports and testimony, that the disturbance is:
Necessary to protect public health, safety or welfare;
To provide an environmental benefit;
To prevent extraordinary hardship on the property owner peculiar to the property; or
To prevent extraordinary hardship, provided the hardship was not created by the property owner, by not allowing a minimum economically viable use of the property based upon reasonable investment.
To the extent allowed under the Stormwater Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:8), the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:13), and the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:38) and subject to review and approval by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to the extent required by those rules, the following disturbances for projects or activities in the riparian zone established by this chapter are allowed:
Redevelopment within the limits of existing impervious surfaces;
Linear development with no feasible alternative route;
Disturbance that is in accordance with a stream corridor restoration or stream bank stabilization plan or project approved by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection;
Disturbance necessary to provide for public pedestrian access or water dependent recreation that meets the requirements of the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7A, the Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules, N.J.A.C. 7:13, or the Coastal Zone Management rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7E; or
Disturbance with no feasible alternative required for the remediation of hazardous substances performed with New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection or Federal oversight pursuant to the Spill Compensation and Control Act, N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11a et seq. or the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C. § 9601 et seq.
Any party aggrieved by the location of the riparian zone boundary determination under this chapter may appeal to the Borough Planner/Planning Board Engineer under the provisions of this chapter. The party contesting the location of the riparian zone boundary shall have the burden of proof in case of any such appeal.
Any party aggrieved by any determination or decision of the Borough Planner/Planning Board Engineer under this chapter may appeal to the Somerville Borough Council. The party contesting the determination or decision shall have the burden of proof in case of any such appeal.
Conflicts. All other ordinances, parts of ordinances, or other local requirements that are inconsistent or in conflict with this chapter are hereby superseded to the extent of any inconsistency or conflict, and the provisions of this chapter shall apply.
Interpretation. This chapter shall be so construed as not to conflict with any provision of New Jersey or Federal law.
Notwithstanding that any provision of this chapter is held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, all remaining provisions of the chapter shall continue to be of full force and effect.
The provisions of this chapter shall be cumulative with, and not in substitution for, all other applicable zoning, planning and land use regulations.
A prompt investigation shall be made by Somerville Borough Department of Community Development, of any person or entity believed to be in violation hereof. If, upon inspection, a condition which is in violation of this chapter is discovered, a civil action in the Special Part of the Superior Court, or in the Superior Court, if the primary relief sought is injunctive or if penalties may exceed the jurisdictional limit of the Special Civil Part, by the filing and serving of appropriate process. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to preclude the right of Borough of Somerville, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 26:3A2-25, to initiate legal proceedings hereunder in Municipal Court. The violation of any section or subsection of this chapter shall constitute a separate and distinct offense independent of the violation of any other section or subsection, or of any order issued pursuant to this chapter. Each day a violation continues shall be considered a separate offense.