[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Somerville 9-3-2019 by Ord. No. 2581. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby found and determined that the uncontrolled and unregulated removal, excavation, filling and placement of soil has resulted and will result in conditions which are or may be detrimental and inimical to the public safety, health and general welfare and which do or may substantially affect the efforts of the Borough to promote and effectuate the general purposes of proper municipal planning, drainage and flood control.
This chapter shall only apply in instances whereby the Planning Board, Soil Conservation District, Board of Adjustment or other agency does not regulate soil disturbance due to the nature or amount of disturbance.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- LAND DISTURBANCE
- Includes any digging, excavation, placement, replacement, filling, grading or leveling of soil or any activity, which shall alter or change the grade, location or contour of lands and the transportation or supplying of soil. Mulching and/or the tilling of land for the purposes of gardening or reseeding of lawns shall be excluded from this definition.
- Earth, sand, clay, loam, gravel, humus, rock or dirt, without regard to the presence or absence of organic matter.
No person shall undertake any land disturbance greater than three cubic yards within the Borough unless the person has first obtained a permit or a waiver from the Department of Public Works in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
Permit applications shall be made available at the Municipal Clerk's Office and available electronically on the Municipal Clerk's page on the Borough's website.
Any person desiring to disturb land in accordance with the limits established in this chapter located within the Borough shall file with the Municipal Clerk a preliminary application, in writing, for such disturbance. The person intending to perform such operation, as well as the owner or owners of the premises from or on which soil is to be disturbed, shall sign such application. There shall be no fee to be submitted with an initial application for disturbing soil. The preliminary application shall include or be accompanied by the following information:
A location survey, also known as a Map of Survey, prepared by a licensed land surveyor which shows all structures, lot lines and easements, marked up to show the limits of disturbance, proposed drainage patterns, retaining walls and landscaping. If survey map is not available, a neatly prepared hand-drawn sketch by the owner may be acceptable denoting the same.
A written description of the proposed work, including the volume of soil to be excavated or placed, the maximum change in elevation resulting from the project and the maximum height of any proposed retaining walls.
The reasons for the proposed work and the proposed dates for commencement and completion.
The address, lot and block number of the premises from which or on which soil is to be removed or filled and the names and addresses of the owners.
If a contractor is performing the work, the name of the contractor and all applicable contact information.
The source of fill to be brought to the site if applicable.
The Municipal Clerk shall submit a completed preliminary application to the Department of Public Works for his/her review and determination and said Department may consult with staff, professional engineers and/or Municipal Engineer and Land Surveyors as determined by the Department of Public Works.
After examination of the preliminary application and supporting material, the Department of Public Works may issue a permit waiver, provided that the volume of excavation or fill does not exceed 10 cubic yards and the area of disturbance is less than 500 square feet. Once a permit waiver is issued, the applicant may proceed.
If a permit waiver is not issued, the applicant shall be required to submit a final application comprising the following:
A nonrefundable application fee of $100.
A grading plan showing the present and proposed contour lines at no more than a one-foot contour interval, together with sufficient spot elevations to show present and proposed drainage patterns prepared by a New Jersey licensed engineer.
Proposed measures for soil erosion and sediment control.
The proposed dates for commencement and completion.
Any other information as may reasonably be required by the Department of Public Works in consultation with professional engineers and/or Municipal Engineer and/or Municipal Surveyor to address adequately the application and this chapter.
A copy of the final application and supporting materials shall be given by personal service or certified mail to the owner of each property abutting the applicant's property. An affidavit of proof of service must be submitted to the Municipal Clerk before the application will be considered complete.
The Department of Public Works shall grant or deny approval within 30 days of submission of a completed final application and proofs of service, unless the Department of Public Works and the applicant mutually agree to an additional thirty-day extension for the purpose of updating or revising the application.
The Department of Public Works shall provide the applicant with a written notice of such decision, which shall be based upon a determination as to whether the applicant has satisfied the performance standards provided in this chapter, as well as the other requirements of this chapter. The applicant shall send a copy of such decision to the owner of each property abutting the applicant's property and copies shall be provided to the Department of Public Works. Work may commence no sooner than 10 calendar days after issuance of a permit or 10 calendar days after the Department of Public Works sends a copy of such decision to the owner of each property abutting the applicant's property, whichever is later, unless an appeal has been filed by the owner of an abutting property.
Prior to the start of work, the Department of Public Works shall set an escrow requirement to provide that the applicant shall pay the cost of all engineering services, inspection services, repairs, supervision and street cleaning incurred by the Borough during the progress of the work under this chapter. Failure to cover costs will result in a lien being placed on the property.
The decision of the Department of Public Works to grant or deny the permit requested shall be subject to review by the Borough Council, upon written appeal by the applicant in the event of a denial or by the owner of an abutting property in the event of a grant. Such written request must be filed with the Municipal Clerk within 10 calendar days after notice of the decision has been mailed and must be accompanied by a nonrefundable fee of $100. The Borough Council shall grant a hearing for review of said action of the Department of Public Works within 45 days thereafter. The applicant shall notify all adjacent property owners of the appeal and they shall be provided an opportunity to comment and provide testimony or documents regarding the appeal.
The Borough Council, upon conclusion of such hearing, may affirm, reverse, amend or deny the decision of the Department of Public Works, as the case may be.
Any soil removal or filling operation shall be so conducted that there shall be no sharp declivities, pits or depressions and so that the area shall be properly leveled off, cleared of debris and graded to conform to the approved grades and shall not substantially increase or alter the existing water drainage characteristics to the detriment of adjacent, nearby or surrounding properties. Drainage provisions shall accommodate any increased runoff that will result from modified soil and surface conditions.
The top four inches of arable soil shall not be removed from the premises but shall be set aside for retention on the premises and shall be respread on the premises when the rest of the soil has been removed or filled pursuant to approved levels.
Stripping of vegetation, grading and other soil disturbance shall be done in a manner that will control sediment and minimize soil erosion. This includes the use of temporary seeding, mulching, silt fencing or other suitable measures. Whenever feasible, natural vegetation shall be retained and protected.
The extent of the disturbed area shall be kept within the limits shown on the application. All of such work shall be completed within the time period specified in the application, and no work shall be carried on except between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The work shall not exceed the sound limits of the Borough's noise ordinance.
In the removal or filling of soil, dirt or other material, only such streets within the Borough shall be used for transportation as may be designated for that purpose by the Department of Public Works. Such streets shall be kept free from dirt resulting from such soil removal or filling work. All parking ordinances, street cleaning ordinances will remain in effect unless waived by the Borough of Somerville and violators will be subject to penalties under said ordinances.
This chapter shall not apply to soil disturbance incident to work under a permit issued by the Soil Conservation District, Construction Official; soil disturbance incident to an approval granted by the Planning Board or Board of Adjustment; or excavations or filling for improvements being made by the Borough or its contractors.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent the Borough from initiating injunctive proceedings to restrain removal, redistribution or filling of soil in violation of this chapter.
If any person shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter, each day shall be deemed a separate violation and each such separate violation shall subject the offending party to the same penalty as provided for a first offense.
Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of no greater than $2,000.
Any person who violates any provision of this chapter may be subject to returning the property to its grade prior to the performance of said work.
The Department of Public Works shall be responsible for enforcing this chapter.