Borough of North Plainfield, NJ
Somerset County
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Editor's Note: Prior ordinance history includes portions of Ordinance No. 727.
See also Section 22-101, Water Run-off Control and Section 22-114, Flood Plain Zone, of this Code.
[Ord. #07-10]
APPEAL
Shall mean a request for a review of the Zoning Officer's interpretation of any provision of this Section or a request for a variance.
AREA OF SHALLOW FLOODING
Shall mean a designated AO, AH or VO zone on the Borough's Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) with a 1% annual or greater chance of flooding to an average depth of one (1') to three (3') feet were as clearly defined channel does not exist, where the path of flooding is unpredictable and where velocity flow may be evident. Such flooding is characterized by ponding or sheet flow.
AREA OF SPECIAL FLOOD HAZARD
Shall mean the land in the flood plain within the Borough subject to a 1% or greater chance of flooding in any given year.
BASE FLOOD
Shall mean the flood having a 1% chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year.
BASEMENT
Shall mean any area of the building having its floor subgrade (below ground level) on all sides.
BREAKAWAY WALL
Shall mean a wall that is not part of the structural support of the building and is intended through its design and construction to collapse under specific lateral loading forces without causing damage to the elevated portion of the building or supporting foundation system.
DEVELOPMENT
Shall mean any manmade change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to buildings or other structures, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation or drilling operations, or storage of equipment or materials located within the area of special flood hazard.
ELEVATED BUILDING
Shall mean a non-basement building: (1) built in the case of a building in an area of special flood hazard to have the top of the elevated floor elevated above the ground level by means of piling, columns (posts and piers), or shear walls parallel to the flow of the water; and, (2) adequately anchored so as not to impair the structural integrity of the building during a flood up to the magnitude of the base flood. In an area of special flood hazard, an "elevated building" also includes a building elevated by means of fill or solid foundation perimeter walls with openings sufficient to facilitate the unimpeded movement of flood waters.
FLOOD OR FLOODING
Shall mean a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from: (1) the overflow of inland or tidal waters; and/or, (2) the unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.
FLOOD INSURANCE RATE MAP (FIRM)
Shall mean the official map on which the Federal Insurance Administration has delineated both the areas of special flood hazards and the risk premium zones applicable to the Borough.
FLOOD INSURANCE STUDY (FIS)
Shall mean the official report in which the Federal Insurance Administration has provided flood profiles, as well as the Flood Insurance Rate Map(s) and the water surface elevation of the base flood.
FLOOD PLAIN MANAGEMENT REGULATIONS
Shall mean zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, building codes, health regulations, special purpose ordinances (such as flood plain ordinances, grading ordinances and erosion control ordinances) and other applications of police power. The term describes such State or local regulations, in any combination thereof, which provide standards for the purpose of flood damage prevention and reduction.
FLOODWAY
Shall mean the channel of a river or other watercourse and the adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than 0.2 feet.
HIGHEST ADJACENT GRADE
Shall mean the highest natural elevation of the ground surface prior to construction next to the proposed walls of a structure.
HISTORIC STRUCTURE
Shall mean any structure that is: (1) listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places (a listing maintained by the United States Department of Interior) or preliminarily determined by the Secretary of the Interior as meeting the requirements for individual listing on the National Register; (2) certified or preliminarily determined by the Secretary of the Interior as contributing to the historical significance of a registered historic district or a district preliminarily determined by the Secretary to qualify as a registered historic district; (3) individually listed on a State inventory of historic places in states with historic preservation programs which have been approved by the Secretary of the Interior; or, (4) individually listed on a local inventory of historic places in communities with historic preservation programs that have been certified either: (a) by an approved State program as determined by the Secretary of the Interior; or, (b) directly by the Secretary of the Interior in states without approved programs.
LOWEST FLOOR
Shall mean the lowest floor of the lowest enclosed area (including basement). An unfinished or flood resistant enclosure, useable solely for the parking of vehicles, building access or storage in an area other than a basement is not considered a building's lowest floor provided that such enclosure is not built so as to render the structure in violation of other applicable non-elevation design requirements.
MANUFACTURED HOME
Shall mean a structure, transportable in one or more sections, which is built on a permanent chassis and is designed for use with or without a permanent foundation when attached to the required utilities. The term "manufactured home" does not include a "recreational vehicle."
MANUFACTURED HOME PARK OR MANUFACTURED HOME SUBDIVISION
Shall mean a parcel (or contiguous parcels) of land divided into two or more manufactured home lots for rent or sale.
NEW CONSTRUCTION
Shall mean structures for which the start of construction commenced on or after the effective date of a floodplain regulation adopted by the Borough and includes any subsequent improvements to such structures.
NEW MANUFACTURED HOME PARK OR SUBDIVISION
Shall mean a manufactured home park or subdivision for which the construction of facilities for servicing the lots on which the manufactured homes are to be affixed (including, at a minimum, the installation of utilities, the construction of streets and either final site grading or the pouring of concrete pads) is completed on or after the effective date of the flood plain management regulations adopted by the Borough.
RECREATIONAL VEHICLE
Shall mean a vehicle which is: (1) built on a single chassis; (2) 400 square feet or less when measured at the longest horizontal projections; (3) designed to be self-propelled or permanently towable by a light duty truck; and, (4) designed primarily not for use as a permanent dwelling but as temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, travel or seasonal use.
START OF CONSTRUCTION
For other than new construction or substantial improvements under the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (P.L. No. 97-348) includes substantial improvements and means the date the building permit was issued, provided the actual start of construction, repair, reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, placement or other improvement was within 180 days of the permit date. The actual start means either the first placement of permanent construction of a structure on a site such as the pouring of a slab or footings, the installation of piles, the construction of columns or any work beyond the stage of excavation, or the placement of a manufactured home on a foundation.
Permanent construction does not include land preparation such as clearing, grading and filling, nor does it include the installation of streets and/or walkways, nor does it include excavation for a basement, footings or piers, or foundations or the erection of temporary forms, nor does it include the installation on the property of accessory buildings, such as garages or sheds not occupied as dwelling units or not part of the main structure. For a substantial improvement, the actual start of construction means the first alteration of any wall, ceiling, floor or other structural part of a building, whether or not that alteration affects the external dimensions of the building.
STRUCTURE
Shall mean a walled and roofed building, a manufactured home or a gas or liquid storage tank that is principally above ground.
SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGE
Shall mean damage of any origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before-damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.
SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENT
Shall mean any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvement of a structure, the cost of which exceeds 50% of the market value of the structure before the "start of construction" of the improvement. This term includes structures which have incurred "substantial damage," regardless of the actual repair work performed. The term does not, however, include either: (1) any project for improvement of a structure to correct existing violations of State or local health, sanitary or safety code specifications which have been identified by the local code enforcement officer and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions; or, (2) any alteration of a "historic structure", provided that the alteration will not preclude the structure's continued designation as a "historic structure."
VARIANCE
Shall mean a grant of relief from the requirements of this Section that permits construction in a manner that would otherwise be prohibited by this Section.
[Ord. #07-10]
a. 
Lands to Which this Section Applies. This section shall apply to all areas of special flood hazards within the jurisdiction of the Borough of North Plainfield.
b. 
Basis for Establishing the Areas of Special Flood Hazard. The areas of special flood hazard for the Borough of North Plainfield, Community No. 345307, are identified and defined on the following documents prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA"):
1. 
A scientific and engineering report "Flood Insurance Study, Somerset County, New Jersey (all jurisdictions)" dated September 28, 2007; and,
2. 
Flood Insurance Rate Map for Somerset County New Jersey (all jurisdictions) as shown on Index and panel numbers 0089,0093,0177 and 0181, whose effective date is September 28, 2007.
The above documents are hereby adopted and declared to be a part of this Section. The Flood Insurance Study and maps are on file at 263 Somerset Street, North Plainfield, New Jersey, 07060.
c. 
Penalties for Noncompliance. No structure or land shall hereafter be constructed, located, extended, converted or altered without full compliance with the terms of this Section and other applicable regulations. Violation of the provisions of this Section by failure to comply with any of its requirements (including violations of conditions and safeguards established in connection with conditions) shall constitute a misdemeanor. Any person who violates this Section or fails to comply with any of its requirements shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not more than one thousand ($1,000.00)/day, or imprisoned for not more than 90 days, or both, for each and every separate violation, and in addition shall pay all costs and expenses involved in the case. Each day such occurs is a separate violation. Nothing herein contained shall prevent the Borough of North Plainfield from taking such other lawful action as is necessary to prevent or remedy any violation.
d. 
Abrogation and Greater Restrictions. This Section is not intended to repeal, abrogate or impair any existing easements, covenants or deed restrictions. However, where this Section and other ordinances, easements, covenants or deed restrictions conflict or overlap, whichever imposes the more stringent restrictions shall prevail.
e. 
Interpretation. In the interpretation and application of this Section, all provisions shall be:
1. 
Considered as minimum requirements;
2. 
Liberally construed in favor of the governing body; and,
3. 
Deemed neither to limit nor repeal any other powers granted under State statutes.
f. 
Warning and Disclaimer of Liability. The degree of flood protection required by this Section is considered reasonable for regulatory purposes and is based on scientific and engineering considerations. Larger floods can and will occur on rare occasions. Flood heights may be increased by manmade or natural causes. This Section does not imply that land outside the area of special flood hazards or uses permitted within such areas will be free from flooding or flood damages.
This Section shall not create liability on the part of the Borough of North Plainfield, any of its officers, officials (elected and/or appointed), employees, agents, designees or representatives, or the Federal Insurance Administration, for any flood damages that result from reliance on this Section or any administrative decision made hereunder.
[Ord. #07-10]
a. 
Establishment of Development Permit. A Development Permit shall be obtained before construction or development begins within any area of special flood hazard established in subsection 20-1.2b. Application for a development permit shall be made on forms furnished by the Zoning Officer and may include, but not be limited to, plans in duplicate drawn to scale showing the nature, location, dimensions and elevations of the area in question, existing or proposed structures, fill, storage of materials, drainage facilities and the location of the foregoing. The following information must be included:
1. 
Elevation, in relation to mean sea level, of the lowest floor (including basement) of all structures;
2. 
Elevation, in relation to mean sea level, to which any structure has been flood-proofed;
3. 
Certification by a registered professional engineer or architect that the flood-proofing methods for any non-residential structure meet the flood-proofing criteria in subsection 20-1.4b2; and,
4. 
Description of the extent to which any watercourse will be altered or relocated as a result of proposed development.
b. 
Designation of the Local Administrator. The Zoning Officer is hereby appointed to administer and implement this Section by granting or denying development permit applications in accordance with its provisions.
c. 
Duties and Responsibilities of the Administrator. Duties of the Zoning Officer in administering and implementing this Section shall include, but not be limited to:
1. 
Permit Review.
(a) 
Review all development permits to determine that the permit requirements of this Section have been satisfied;
(b) 
Review all development permits to determine that all necessary permits have been obtained from those Federal, State or local government agencies from which prior approval is required; and,
(c) 
Review all development permits to determine if the proposed development is located in the floodway and assure that the encroachment provisions of subsection 20-1.4c1 are met.
2. 
Use of Other Base Flood and Floodway Data. When base flood elevation and floodway data has not been provided in accordance with subsection 20-1.2b, "Basis for Establishing the Areas of Special Flood Hazard", the Zoning Officer shall obtain, review and reasonably utilize any base flood elevation and floodway data available from Federal, State or other source, in order to administer subsection 20-1.4b1, "Specific Standards, Residential Construction" and subsection 20-1.4b2, "Specific Standards, Nonresidential Construction."
3. 
Information to be Obtained and Maintained.
(a) 
Obtain and record the actual elevation (in relation to mean sea level) of the lowest floor (including basement) of all new or substantially improved structures, and whether or not the structure contains a basement;
(b) 
For all new or substantially improved flood-proofed structures: (i) verify and record the actual elevation (in relation to mean sea level); and, (ii) maintain the flood-proofing certifications required in subsection 20-1.3a3; and,
(c) 
Maintain for public inspection all records pertaining to the provisions of this Section.
4. 
Alteration of Watercourses.
(a) 
Notify adjacent communities and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Dam Safety and Flood Control Section and the Land Use Regulation Program prior to any alteration or relocation of a watercourse, and submit evidence of such notification to the Federal Insurance Administration; and,
(b) 
Require that maintenance is provided within the altered or relocated portion of said watercourse so the flood carrying capacity is not diminished.
5. 
Interpretation of FIRM Boundaries. Make interpretations where needed, as to the exact location of the boundaries of the areas of special flood hazards (for example, where there appears to be a conflict between a mapped boundary and actual field conditions). The person contesting the location of the boundary shall be given a reasonable opportunity to appeal the interpretation as provided in subsection 20-1.3d.
d. 
Variance Procedure.
1. 
Appeal Board.
(a) 
The Zoning Board of Adjustment shall hear and decide appeals and requests for variances from the requirements of this Section.
(b) 
The Zoning Board of Adjustment shall hear and decide appeals when it is alleged there is an error in any requirement, decision or determination made by the Zoning Officer in the enforcement or administration of this Section.
(c) 
Those aggrieved by the decision of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, or any taxpayer, may appeal such decision to the Superior Court of New Jersey, pursuant to the New Jersey Rules of Court.
(d) 
In passing upon such applications, the Zoning Board of Adjustment shall consider all technical evaluations, all relevant factors, standards specified in other sections of this Section and:
(1) 
The danger that materials may be swept onto other lands to the injury of others;
(2) 
The danger to life and property due to flooding or erosion damage;
(3) 
The susceptibility of the proposed facility and its contents to flood damage and the effect of such damage on the individual owner;
(4) 
The importance of the services provided by the proposed facility to the community;
(5) 
The necessity to the facility of a waterfront location, where applicable;
(6) 
The availability of alternative locations for the proposed use which are not subject to flooding or erosion damage;
(7) 
The compatibility of the proposed use with existing and anticipated development;
(8) 
The relationship of the proposed use to the comprehensive plan and flood plain management program of that area;
(9) 
The safety of access to the property in times of flood for ordinary and emergency vehicles;
(10) 
The expected heights, velocity, duration, rate of rise and sediment transport of the flood waters and the effects of wave action, if applicable, expected at the site; and,
(11) 
The costs of providing governmental services during and after flood conditions, including maintenance and repair of public utilities and facilities such as sewer, gas, electrical and water systems and streets and bridges.
(e) 
Upon consideration of the factors in subsection 20-1.3d1(d) and the purposes of this Section, the Zoning Board of Adjustment may attached such conditions to the granting of variances as it deems necessary to further the purposes of this Section.
(f) 
The Zoning Officer shall maintain the records of all appeal actions, including technical information, and report any variances to the Federal Insurance Administration upon request.
2. 
Conditions for Variances.
(a) 
Generally, variances may be issued for new construction and substantial improvements to be erected on a lot of 1/2 acre or less in size contiguous to and surrounded by lots with existing structures constructed below the base flood level, providing items (1)—(11) in subsection 20-1.3d1(d) have been fully considered. As the lot size increases beyond the 1/2 acre, the technical justification required for issuing the variance increases.
(b) 
Variances may be issued for the repair or rehabilitation of historic structures upon a determination that the proposed repair or rehabilitation will not preclude the structure's continued designation as a historic structure and the variance is the minimum necessary to preserve the historic character and design of the structure.
(c) 
Variances shall not be issued within any designated floodway if any increase in flood levels during the base flood discharge would result.
(d) 
Variances shall only be issued upon a determination that the variance is the minimum necessary, considering the flood hazard, to afford relief.
(e) 
Variances shall only be issued upon:
(1) 
A showing of good and sufficient cause;
(2) 
A determination that the failure to grant the variance would result in exceptional hardship to the applicant; and,
(3) 
A determination that the granting of a variance will not result in increased flood heights, additional threats to public safety, extraordinary public expense, create nuisances, cause fraud on or victimization of the public as identified in subsection 20-1.3d1(d), or conflict with existing local laws or ordinances.
(f) 
Any applicant to whom a variance is granted shall be given written notice that the structure will be permitted to be built with a lowest floor elevation below the base flood elevation and that the cost of flood insurance will be commensurate with the increased risk resulting from the reduced lowest floor elevation.
[Ord. #07-10]
a. 
General Standards. In all areas of special flood hazards, the following standards are required:
1. 
Anchoring.
(a) 
All new construction and substantial improvements shall be anchored to prevent flotation, collapse or lateral movement of the structure.
(b) 
All manufactured homes shall be anchored to resist flotation, collapse or lateral movement. Methods of anchoring may include, but are not limited to, use of over-the-top or frame ties to ground anchors. This requirement is in addition to applicable State and local anchoring requirements for resisting wind forces.
2. 
Construction Materials and Methods.
(a) 
All new construction and substantial improvements shall be constructed with materials and utility equipment resistant to flood damage.
(b) 
All new construction and substantial improvements shall be constructed using methods and practices that minimize flood damage.
3. 
Utilities.
(a) 
All new and replacement water supply systems shall be designed to minimize or eliminate infiltration of flood waters into the system.
(b) 
New and replacement sanitary sewage systems shall be designed to minimize or eliminate infiltration of flood waters into the systems and discharge from the systems into flood waters.
(c) 
On-site waste disposal systems shall be located to avoid impairment to them or contamination from them during flooding.
(d) 
Electrical, heating, ventilation, plumbing and air-conditioning equipment and other service facilities shall be designed and/or located so as to prevent water from entering or accumulating within the components during conditions of flooding.
4. 
Subdivision Proposals.
(a) 
All subdivision proposals shall be consistent with the need to minimize flood damage.
(b) 
All subdivision proposals shall have public utilities and facilities such as sewer, gas, electrical and water systems located and constructed to minimize flood damage.
(c) 
All subdivision proposals shall have adequate drainage provided to reduce exposure to flood damage.
(d) 
Base flood elevation data shall be provided for subdivision proposals and other proposed developments which contain at least 50 lots or five acres (whichever is less).
5. 
Enclosure Openings. All new construction and substantial improvements having fully enclosed areas below the lowest floor that are usable solely for parking of vehicles, building access or storage in an area other than a basement and which are subject to flooding shall be designed to automatically equalize hydrostatic flood forces on exterior walls by allowing for the entry and exit of floodwaters. Designs for meeting this requirement must either be certified by a registered professional engineer or architect or must meet or exceed the following minimum criteria: A minimum of two openings having a total net area of not less than one square inch for every square foot of enclosed area subject to flooding shall be provided. The bottom of all openings shall be no higher than one (1') foot above grade. Openings may be equipped with screens, louvers or other covering or devices provided that they permit the automatic entry and exit of floodwaters.
b. 
Specific Standards. In all areas of special flood hazards where base flood elevation data have been provided as set forth in subsection 20-1.2b, "Basis for Establishing the Areas of Special Flood Hazard" or in subsection 20-1.3c2 "Use of Other Base Flood and Floodway Data", the following standards are required:
1. 
Residential Construction.
(a) 
New construction and substantial improvement of any residential structure shall have the lowest floor, including basement, elevated to or above base flood elevation.
(b) 
Require within any AO zone on the Borough's FIRM that all new construction and substantial improvement of any residential structure shall have the lowest floor, including basement, elevated above the highest adjacent grade at least as high as the depth number specified in feet (at least two (2') feet if no depth number is specified), and require adequate drainage paths around structures on slopes to guide floodwaters around and away from proposed structures.
2. 
Nonresidential Construction.
(a) 
New construction and substantial improvement of any commercial, industrial or other nonresidential structure shall have either the lowest floor, including basement, elevated to the level of the base flood elevation.
(b) 
Require within any AO zone on the Borough's FIRM that all new construction and substantial improvement of any commercial, industrial or other nonresidential structure shall either have the lowest floor, including basement, elevated above the highest adjacent grade at least as high as the depth number specified in feet (at least two (2') feet if no depth number is specified), and require adequate drainage paths around structures on slopes to guide floodwaters around and away from proposed structures or, together with the attendant utilities and sanitary facilities, shall:
(1) 
Be flood-proofed so that below the base flood level the structure is watertight with walls substantially impermeable to the passage of water;
(2) 
Have structural components capable of resisting hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads and effects of buoyancy; and,
(3) 
Be certified by a registered professional engineer or architect that the design and methods of construction are in accordance with accepted standards of practice for meeting the applicable provisions of this subsection. Such certification shall be provided to the official as set forth in subsection 20-1.3c,3b.
3. 
Manufactured Homes.
(a) 
Manufactured homes shall be anchored in accordance with subsection 20-1.4a1.
(b) 
All manufactured homes to be placed or substantially improved within an area of special flood hazard shall be elevated on a permanent foundation such that the top of the lowest floor is at or above the base flood elevation.
c. 
Floodways. Located within areas of special flood hazard established in subsection 20-1.2b are areas designated as floodways. Since the floodway is an extremely hazardous area due to the velocity of flood waters which carry debris, potential projectiles and erosion potential, the following provisions apply:
1. 
Prohibit encroachments, including fill, new construction, substantial improvements and other development unless a technical evaluation demonstrates that encroachment shall not result in any increase in flood levels during the occurrence of the base flood discharge.
2. 
If subsection 20-1.4c1 is satisfied, all new construction and substantial improvements must comply with subsection 20-1.4, "Provisions for Flood Hazard Reduction".
3. 
In all areas of special flood hazard in which base flood elevation data has been provided and no floodway has been designated, the cumulative effect of any proposed development, when combined with all other existing and anticipated development, shall not increase the water surface elevation of the base flood more than 0.2 foot at any point.