Borough of Highlands, NJ
Monmouth County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[The power to regulate soil removal is included in the general police power granted by R.S. 40:48-1, 2.]
The unregulated and uncontrolled relocation, filling, excavation and removal of soil on a large scale has resulted or will result in conditions detrimental to the public safety, health, general welfare and proper development of the borough, substantially hampering and deterring the efforts of the borough to effectuate the general purpose of borough planning. The continuation of the unregulated and uncontrolled relocation, filling, excavation and removal of soil will result in serious and irreparable damage to the public welfare by reason of consequent soil erosion by water and wind; inadequate and improper surface water drainage; the decrease in or destructions of the fertility of sod; the removal of lateral support of abutting streets, lands and premises; the creation of dangerous depressions or pits; the deterioration of property values; the rendering of land unfit or unsuitable to their most appropriate uses; and the creation of other factors and elements hampering and deterring the coordinated, adjusted and harmonious physical development of the borough.
As used in this chapter:
LAND
Shall mean any parcel of land, or portion thereof, the boundary lines of which can be ascertained by reference to the maps and records either in the office of the tax assessor or the office of the Monmouth County Clerk.
MOVE
Shall mean to dig, to excavate, to remove, to grade, regrade, level or otherwise alter or change the location or contour, to transport, to supply. Move shall not be construed to include plowing, spading, cultivating, harrowing of soil, or any other operation usually and ordinarily associated with the tilling of soil for agricultural or horticultural purposes.
SOIL
Shall mean any earth, topsoil, sand, clay, loam, gravel, humus, rock, or dirt without regard to the presence or absence therein of organic matter.
No person shall move or cause, allow or permit to be moved, any soil from in or upon any land in the borough unless and until a soil permit is issued by the borough building inspector.
No owner of any land in the borough shall cause, allow or permit any soil in or upon such land to be moved from the premises by any person until such person has first obtained a soil permit.
No soil permit shall be required in connection with the construction, alteration, addition to or repairing of any building erected or hereafter to be erected on any land, or the excavation, filling, landscaping or grading incidental to the uses of such building on the land including the installation, repair or replacement of a sanitary system used in connection therewith, provided that the finished grade on such land after completion of the work shall not be lowered to a point more than six inches higher than the crown of the road abutting the property upon which such building shall be located. Further, any holes left as the result of excavation shall not be filled with stones, boulders, debris or stumps unless they are covered with at least three feet of soil.
Any person desiring to excavate on any lands within the borough for the purpose of removing soil shall, before commencing work on such excavation, file a written application on a form furnished by the borough for a permit with the borough building inspector which application shall contain the following data:
a. 
Present contour lines and contour grades of the lots and lands.
b. 
Proposed contour lines and proposed contour grades resulting from the intended removal of soil in relation to the adjoining property.
c. 
Grades of all abutting streets, lots and lands.
d. 
Such other pertinent data as the mayor and council may require.
With the application there shall be filed a topographical map of the land upon which the proposed soil moving operations are to be conducted and a reasonable engineering estimate of surrounding lands within 200 feet of the perimeter of land which is the subject matter of the application, prepared and certified by a licensed professional civil engineer or land surveyor of the State of New Jersey, on the scale of not less than one inch to 100 feet, and referred to in the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Data showing:
a. 
The dimensions of the land and the lot and block number of the land and of each lot surrounding the land within 200 feet as shown on the last tax assessment map of the borough.
b. 
The present grade on a 50-foot grid layout with contour lines at two-foot levels up to and including five acres; or for more than five acres, 100-foot grids with contour lines at five-foot levels. Where access to adjoining lands is not permitted, the contour lines of the perimeter lands shall be taken from the available State of New Jersey or United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Map of the particular area.
c. 
The existing elevations of all buildings, structures, streets, streams, bodies of water and watercourses, natural or artificial.
d. 
All existing surface and subsurface water drainage conditions and provisions therefor.
e. 
All wooded areas.
f. 
The proposed grades at points in subsection 14-4.2(b) when the work has been completed with the requirements as contained therein.
g. 
The quantity, in cubic yards, of the soil involved in the work.
h. 
The average depth of topsoil as determined by taking borings in the approximate center of each 100-foot grid.
i. 
The grades of all abutting streets and lands.
j. 
Proposed slopes and lateral supports at the limits of the area upon completion of the proposed work.
k. 
The proposed details of entry and egress for surface-water drainage and of any streams, bodies of water and watercourses, natural or artificial.
The applicant shall furnish any other pertinent data the mayor and council may require after examination of the proposed project, including the extent in cubic yards of topsoil to be removed; and whether the topsoil is to be replaced on the site in question or moved to some other place and, if so, whether inside or outside the borough.
The application shall first be reviewed by the building inspector who shall then refer the matter to the planning board. The planning board shall review the application and report its findings, with recommendations, to the mayor and council. The mayor and council shall consider the recommendations, if any, and shall make the final determination.
After review of the application by the planning board and submission of its findings and recommendations to the mayor and council, the mayor and council shall, in issuing or denying the license, be guided by the general purpose of municipal planning and shall take into consideration the following factors:
a. 
Soil erosion by water and wind.
b. 
Surface water drainage.
c. 
Soil fertility.
d. 
Lateral support of abutting streets, lots and lands.
e. 
Public health and safety.
f. 
Land values and uses.
g. 
Such other factors as may bear upon or relate to the coordinated, adjusted and harmonious physical development of the borough.
h. 
Water table.
If permission is not granted, the applicant, upon written request for a hearing made to the mayor and council, shall be given an opportunity to be heard.
If, after examining the application and the maps provided for in this chapter and the reports of the building inspector or after a hearing requested by the applicant, the mayor and council is of the opinion that the proposed soil removal will not create conditions inimical to the public health, welfare and safety; will not result in the creation of any sharp delivities, pits or depressions, soil erosion or fertility problems, or depressed land values; not create any drainage or sewerage problems or other conditions of danger, permission to remove the soil shall be granted. The permit shall expire December 31 and shall be renewed annually.
If application for a soil removal permit involves the complete removal of a bank which extends above the elevation of the surrounding lands or above the elevation of a public road or street adjacent to the land where the removal project is to take place, the moving or removal shall be so conducted as to leave the final grade of the land or lot from which the bank is to be removed at a grade that will not create a hazardous condition for the surrounding lands or a public road or street. Wherever practical, the final grade shall not be lower than the grade of the surrounding lands or of a public road or street, and the final grade shall be established and maintained at a minimum of one-half of one percent to insure proper drainage. In establishing final grades, the factors to be considered shall be those listed in subsection 14-4.5.
a. 
If the application for a soil-moving permit involves the partial cutting down of a bank, the project shall leave the final slope of all sides of the remaining portion of the bank at slopes that conform to the following minimum slope standards:
1. 
Wet clay and sand — one vertical to two horizontal.
2. 
Gravel, loam and clay, boulders and earth — one vertical to one and one-half horizontal.
3. 
Large rock slabs into earth hill — one vertical to one horizontal.
4. 
Disintegrated rock — one vertical to one-half horizontal.
5. 
Solid rock — one vertical to one-fourth horizontal. Under no conditions shall any such slope be left which is in excess of one vertical to one-fourth horizontal. If slopes are made up of several types of soil, the minimum standards shall apply to each section in progressively decreasing slopes. Definitions of soil shall be in conformity to Highway Engineering Handbook by Harger and Bonney, for areas of rain and heavy frost.
b. 
Where earth is moved in order to lower a grade or to alter an existing slope, the upper crown or brink shall not be closer to any property line than five feet, and this distance shall be increased at a rate of one foot for each one foot of vertical height of the slope up to a maximum required for a distance of 25 feet from any property line. If for any reason the final grade is higher than the level of the surrounding lands, the same formula shall be used in determining the distance of the bottom of the slope from the nearest property line.
Whenever any owner, developer or excavator removes topsoil from any land in the borough, provision shall be made for the storage of topsoil within the boundary lines of the property.
Except as hereinafter provided, all topsoil so stored shall be uniformly replaced over the entire area or surface of the land on or before the completion date set forth in the soil removal permit so that the final grades of the replaced topsoil conform to the proposed final grades shown on the topographical map.
No owner, developer or excavator shall remove topsoil to any point beyond the lines of the land in question, until topsoil not inferior in quality to that to be removed is replaced as originally found or not less than six inches of compacted topsoil is uniformly placed over the entire surface area of the land, excepting only such portions as shall be or shall have become since the date of the filing of the topographical map, permanently covered by building or structure, street, pavement, curb, sidewalk, driveway or other paved area, or by any body of water or waterway. In no event shall the owner, developer or excavator remove from the land more topsoil than that comprising the surplus or excess remaining after replacement of the topsoil.
Before any permit shall be issued the applicant shall file with the mayor and council a performance bond with satisfactory surety, the amount to be determined by the borough engineer and the mayor and council, which bond shall be conditioned upon full and faithful performance by the principal within the time specified in the application of all the proposal work as set forth in the application, and which may be found necessary by the mayor and council. In addition, the bond shall be conditioned upon the repair at the expense of the owner or applicant of any street damaged by the transportation of soil, in connection with the application if, in the judgment of the mayor and council, such repairs are deemed to be necessary. Expense, as used in this section, shall include the cost and supervision incurred by the borough engineer in connection with such repairs.
The owner of the premises or the person in charge of the removal of soil, when permission has been duly granted, shall not take away the top layer of arable soil for a depth of six inches, but such top layer of arable soil to a depth of six inches shall be set aside for retention on the premises and shall be respread over the premises when the rest of the soil has been removed, pursuant to levels and contour lines approved by the mayor and council.
In the removal of soil, when permission has been duly granted, the owner or person in charge shall so conduct the operations that there shall be no sharp declivities, pits or depressions and in such a manner that, upon completion, the area shall be properly leveled off, cleared of debris and graded and seeded to conform with the contour lines and grades as approved by the borough engineer and the mayor and council. No operation governed by this chapter shall be permitted on Sunday or before 6:00 a.m., or after 6:00 p.m.
The building inspector, borough engineer, mayor or any member of the council or planning board shall have at all times the right to inspect any property where a license has been issued under the provisions of this chapter. In order to facilitate this right of inspection, the property owners shall cause sufficient grade and boundary stakes to be put in place while work is going on or about to commence. The borough engineer, borough council and planning board shall also have the right to inspect the property at any time for the purpose of laying out roads, drainage or for any other purpose deemed in the best interest of the borough.
Together with the application there shall be deposited with the building inspector a permit fee computed at the rate of $.03 per cubic yard multiplied by the estimated number of yards to be removed within the licensed period on soil, except rock, and $.06 per cubic yard on rock as stated in the application, provided that in no event should the fee be less than twenty-five ($25.00) dollars. However, the mayor and council may waive or modify this requirement for the entire payment initially, but shall require not less than ten percent of the total permit fee to be paid with the application. The balance of the fee shall be paid in monthly installments equal to the number of yards removed in each month multiplied by the amount stipulated in this section. The monthly installments shall be paid on or before the tenth day of the month following the month in which the soil or rock has been removed. Failure to make payment on this date shall result in suspension of the permit until all arrears shall have been paid.