Township of Bernards, NJ
Somerset County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
All applications for development including development of an individual lot, shall be subject to the following restrictions with respect to topographic and environmental features.
[Ord. #585, § 502; Ord. #1269, 8-26-1997, amended]
[Ord. #585, § 502A; Ord. #760, §§ 20-21; Ord. #1269, 8-26-1997, amended]
a. 
Wetland Delineation. A wetlands letter of interpretation (LOI) from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) shall be submitted as part of the application for any major subdivision or major site plan application. A minor subdivision application or a building permit application for an individual lot shall not be required to submit an LOI; however, an on-site wetland delineation shall be prepared by a qualified consultant. If wetlands are present that could be impact by the proposed improvements, a NJDEP approved LOI shall be submitted with the minor subdivision application or building permit application. If no wetlands are observed, a note to that effect shall be shown on the plans.
1. 
Documentation. All wetland and transition areas required pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:7A-1 et seq. (New Jersey Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules) or any successor statutes or regulations shall be clearly shown on all plats or site plans submitted for approval.
2. 
All final plats, final site plans or individual lot building plans shall include the wetland line(s) identification number as assigned by NJDEP, pursuant to the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act.
b. 
Wetland Protection Standards. To prevent adverse impacts on delineated wetlands, the following guidelines shall be employed:
1. 
A snow fence shall be installed along the limit of disturbance outside of the final wetland transition area boundary line prior to the commencement of on-site construction, so as to prevent encroachment into these regulated areas.
2. 
A silt fence and/or hay bales should be installed downstream from disturbance areas adjacent to the state-mandated wetland transition area line (or buffer) so as to prevent the transport of silt into the wetland areas.
3. 
The applicant shall avoid encroachment into state-regulated wetland and transition areas. All existing on-site vegetation within or adjacent to the wetland areas shall be preserved.
4. 
Prior to signing of the final plat or site plan, the applicant shall provide evidence of the filing of any deed restriction required by NJDEP to permit transition area modifications.
5. 
Whenever a conservation easement is required pursuant to Subsection 21-14.1c below, the easement boundaries shall be delineated with survey monuments to ensure that future encroachment and disturbance of the easement does not occur. The quantity and location of monuments shall be sufficient to adequately identify the easement and shall be shown on the plans and subject to approval by the Township Engineer, provided the spacing of monuments shall not exceed 100 feet. Performance of the monument installation shall be guaranteed by a surety, such as a bond, cash or letter of credit, which shall be provided to the Township prior to the Township issuing any permits relating to the proposed site work.
[Ord. #1540, 5-14-2002, added]
c. 
Conservation Easement. Whenever an LOI or wetlands delineation is required under Subsection 21-14.1a above, all wetlands and transition areas shall be protected by a conservation easement running to the Township. Such conservation easement shall, at the request of the owner of such a property, be amended to conform to any subsequent modification of the included transition areas, provided that such modification is first approved by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Modifications may include, but are not limited to, transition area averaging plans. An owner may request such modification by submitting an amendatory deed to the Township Engineer for review and approval. The owner shall be responsible to reimburse the Township for the cost of having any in-house or outside professional or technical personnel review the proposed amendatory deed.
[Ord. #585, § 502B; Ord. #760, § 22; Ord. #1269, 8-26-1997, amended; Ord. #1539, 5-14-2002, amended]
a. 
The purpose of this subsection is to regulate the intensity of use in areas of steeply sloping terrain in order to limit soil loss and erosion and the degradation of surface water.
b. 
The applicant shall prepare a steep slope map based on ten-foot contour intervals showing slope classes of 0% to 14.9%, 15% to 19.9%. 20% to 25% and greater than 25%. The map shall also include a calculation of the area of proposed disturbance of each slope class on each existing and proposed lot, as well as within any proposed road right-of-way.
1. 
Areas with slopes ranging from 0% to 14.9% are not restricted to development.
2. 
Areas with slopes ranging from 15% to 25% shall require detailed grading plans and architectural plans. The Board must find that drainage and erosion problems will not result from the development and that the architecture is specifically designed to accommodate the topography. Roads and driveways should be designed to follow the natural topography to the greatest extent possible to minimize the disturbance of steep slope areas.
(a) 
Areas with slopes ranging from 15% to 19.9% shall have disturbed areas limited to 40% of that slope category.
(b) 
Areas with slopes ranging from 20% to 25% shall have disturbed areas limited to 20% of that slope category.
3. 
In areas with slopes greater than 25%, no development, regrading or stripping of vegetation shall be permitted unless the disturbance is for roadway crossings or utility construction and it can be demonstrated that the roadway or utility improvements are necessary in the sloped area for the improvement to exist.
4. 
For applications requiring development plan approval by the Board, the Board may require that areas with slopes greater than 25% be protected by a conservation easement running to the Township. if an area is to be preserved in its entirety due to the presence of steep slopes, the applicant may offer the area for dedication to the Township, a private land trust or a nonprofit agency in order to preserve and maintain the area in its natural state.
[Ord. #585, § 502C; Ord. #760, § 23; Ord. #848, § 1]
No application for development of any property which is subject to Bernards Township Chapter XXV entitled, "An Ordinance of the Township Committee of the Township of Bernards Providing for Flood Damage Prevention," shall be approved unless the developer of such property shall have satisfied all applicable requirements of said ordinance. No development (as defined in said ordinance) shall be conducted upon any such property unless the developer shall have obtained all applicable permits pursuant to said ordinance. For purposes of said ordinance, the definitions in said ordinance shall prevail over any conflicting definitions in this Land Development Ordinance.
Whenever this Land Development Ordinance refers to any term with reference to Subsection 21-14.3, reference should be made to the definitions of terms in Section 21-3.
[Ord. #1504, 11-8-2001, added; Ord. #1895, 9-26-2006, amended]
a. 
Purpose and Intent. In recognition of the fact that natural features contribute to the welfare of residents, the following regulations have been enacted to provide reasonable controls governing the restoration, conservation, disturbance and management of existing stream buffers for all perennial and intermittent streams and all lakes and ponds in the municipality by establishing designated stream buffer conservation areas. In addition, the specific purposes and intent of this subsection are to:
1. 
Reduce the amount of nutrients, sediment, organic matter, pesticides and other harmful substances that reach watercourses, wetlands and subsurface and surface water bodies by using scientifically proven processes, including filtration, deposition, absorption, adsorption, plant uptake, biodegradation and denitrification and by improving infiltration, encouraging sheet flow and stabilizing concentrated flows.
2. 
Improve and maintain the safety, reliability and adequacy of the water supply for domestic, agricultural, commercial, industrial and recreational uses while sustaining diverse populations of aquatic flora and fauna.
3. 
Regulate the land use, siting and engineering of all development to be consistent with the intent and objectives of this section and accepted conservation practices, and to work within the carrying capacity of existing natural resources.
4. 
Assist in the implementation of pertinent state laws concerning erosion and sediment control practices.
5. 
Conserve the natural features important to land and water resources (e.g., headwater areas, groundwater recharge zones, floodways, floodplains, springs, streams, wetlands, woodlands, prime wildlife habitats) and other features constituting high recreational value or containing amenities that exist on developed and undeveloped land.
6. 
Work with floodplain, steep slope and other ordinances that regulate environmentally sensitive areas to minimize hazards to life, property and stream features.
7. 
Conserve natural, scenic and recreation areas within and adjacent to stream areas for the community's benefit.
b. 
Definitions, Applicability, Width Determination of a Stream Buffer Conservation Area and Establishment of a Stream Buffer Conservation Easement.
1. 
Definitions. As used in this subsection, the following terms shall have the meanings set forth below:
APPROVING AUTHORITY
Shall mean the Planning Board or Board of Adjustment, as the case may be, in circumstances where subdivision, site plan or conditional use approval is required, and shall mean the Township Engineer or his appointed representative in all other circumstances.
[Ord. #1730, 7-13-2004, added]
NJDEP SPECIAL WATER RESOURCE PROTECTION AREA
Shall mean the area measured pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:8-5.5(h) that is established along all Category One (C1) waters and their tributaries, as designated pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:9B-1.15.
[Ord. #1895, 9-26-2006, added]
STREAM
Shall mean a natural watercourse or surface water body that contains water for at least part of the year and meets at least one of the following criteria:
(a) 
Has a drainage area of 50 acres or greater.
(b) 
Is portrayed as a dashed line on a USDA Soil Survey Map of the most recent edition.
(c) 
Is portrayed as a dashed line or a blue line on a USGS Topographic Quadrangle Map of the most recent edition.
STREAM BUFFER CONSERVATION AREA
Shall mean an area adjacent to a stream that intercepts surface water runoff, wastewater, subsurface flow and/or deep groundwater flows from upland sources and functions to remove or buffer the effects of associated nutrients, sediment, organic matter, pesticides or other pollutants prior to entry into the stream. This area may also provide wildlife habitat, control water temperature, attenuate flood flow and provide opportunities for passive recreation. This area may or may not contain trees and other vegetation and shall be subject to the restrictions outlined in this subsection.
STREAM BUFFER CONSERVATION EASEMENT
Shall mean an easement running to the Township and established in accordance with Article IX of this chapter. A stream buffer conservation easement shall contain a stream buffer conservation area and shall be subject to all restrictions applicable to the stream buffer conservation area.
STREAM BUFFER MANAGEMENT PLAN
Shall mean a plan approved by the approving authority pursuant to Subsection 21-14h1. The plan shall be prepared by a landscape architect, professional engineer or other qualified professional and shall fully evaluate the effects of any proposed activity/uses on a stream buffer conservation area. The plan shall identify existing conditions (vegetation, one-hundred-year floodplain, NJDEP special water resource protection areas, soils, slopes, etc.), all proposed activities and all proposed management techniques, including any measures necessary to offset disturbances to the stream buffer conservation area.
[Ord. #1730, 7-13-2004, amended; Ord. #1895, 9-26-2006, amended]
2. 
Applicability. The regulations outlined in this subsection shall be applicable to all properties containing a stream buffer conservation area.
3. 
Width Determination. A stream buffer conservation area shall extend a minimum of 75 feet from each defined edge of a stream at bankfull flow or shall equal the extent of the one-hundred-year floodplain or NJDEP special water resource protection area, whichever is greater. A stream buffer conservation area shall consist of two distinct zones designated as follows. (See Figure 205 located at the end of this chapter.)
(a) 
Zone One.
(1) 
Zone One shall begin at each defined edge of a stream and shall occupy a margin of land with a minimum width of 25 feet measured horizontally on a line perpendicular to the edge of the stream at bankfull flow.
(2) 
Where steep slopes (in excess of 25%) are located within 25 feet of a Stream, Zone One shall extend the entire distance of the steep slope area. If the distance of the steep slope area is greater than 75 feet, there shall be no requirement for the establishment of Zone Two. If the distance of the steep slope area is less than 75 feet, the width of Zone Two shall be adjusted such that the total width (Zone One and Zone Two) shall be 75 feet, except where a greater width is required in order to include the one-hundred-year floodplain or NJDEP special water resource protection area, pursuant to Subsection 21-14.4b3(b)(2).
(b) 
Zone Two.
(1) 
Zone Two shall begin at the outer edge of Zone One and shall occupy a minimum width of 50 feet in addition to Zone One, except where a lesser width is required for Zone Two pursuant to Subsection 21-14.4b3(a)(2).
(2) 
Where the one-hundred-year floodplain or NJDEP special water resource protection area extends greater than 75 feet from the waterway, Zone One shall remain a minimum of 25 feet wide, except as otherwise required pursuant to Subsection 21-14.4b3(a)(2), and Zone Two shall extend from the outer edge of Zone One to the outer edge of the one-hundred-year floodplain or NJDEP special water resource protection area, whichever is greater.
(c) 
Responsibility For Width Determination. The applicant or his or her designated representative shall be responsible for the initial width determination of a stream buffer conservation area and for identifying the area on any plan submitted to the Township in conjunction with an application for a construction permit or development plan approval or whenever the width determination is deemed necessary by the Zoning Enforcement Officer in order to determine compliance with this subsection. The initial determination shall be subject to approval by the Township Engineer.
(d) 
Zone Two Waiver. If the applicant submits a stream buffer management plan, in consideration of Subsection 21-14.4a, that proves to the satisfaction of the approving authority that a proposed vegetative or other enhancement to Zone One will eliminate the need for a Zone Two or a portion of Zone Two, the approving authority shall waive the requirement for a Zone Two or a portion of Zone Two, provided that the approved stream buffer management plan is implemented by the applicant.
[Ord. #1730, 7-13-2004, amended]
4. 
Establishment of a Stream Buffer Conservation Easement. When any of the following circumstances occur, the applicant shall establish a stream buffer conservation easement containing the stream buffer conservation area. The Stream Buffer Conservation Easement shall be recorded prior to the Township issuing any permits or approving any uses relating to the applicable use or activity.
(a) 
When the applicant applies to the Construction Code Office for a construction permit, excluding a construction permit application that involves only a fence.
(b) 
When the applicant applies to the Planning Board or Board of Adjustment for approval of a development plan, excluding a development plan application that involves only a fence.
c. 
Uses Permitted in a Stream Buffer Conservation Area. No construction, development, use, activity, encroachment or structure shall be permitted in a stream buffer conservation area unless specifically permitted herein.
1. 
Zone One.
(a) 
Uses Permitted by Right. The following uses shall be permitted by right in Zone One and do not require approval by the Zoning Enforcement Officer or compliance with an approved stream buffer management plan.
(1) 
Open space uses that are primarily passive in character, including wildlife sanctuaries, nature preserves, forest preserves, fishing areas and passive areas of public and private parklands.
(2) 
Fences for which a permit has been issued by the Construction Code Office. (Notwithstanding the fact that they are permitted in a stream buffer conservation area, fences are still subject to approval by the Zoning Enforcement Officer as to compliance with the general requirements for fences, including Section 21-16.2).
(3) 
On residential lots, accessory uses and structures for which no permit is required from the Construction Code Office, including but not limited to driveways, patios, walkways, sheds not exceeding 100 square feet in area, private recreational or game areas, mowed lawns, landscaped and graded areas and gardens. The removal of trees in conjunction with any such accessory use or structure shall also be permitted, subject to approval of a tree removal permit, if applicable.
(b) 
Uses Requiring Township Approval. The following uses shall be permitted in Zone One subject to approval by the Zoning Enforcement Officer and subject to compliance with an approved stream buffer management plan.
(1) 
Buffer crossings by farm vehicles and livestock, recreational trails, roads, railroads, stormwater lines, sanitary sewer lines, water lines and public utility transmission lines, provided that the land disturbance is the minimum required to accomplish the permitted use.
(2) 
Reforestation.
(3) 
Streambank stabilization.
2. 
Zone Two.
(a) 
Uses Permitted by Right. The following uses shall be permitted by right in Zone Two and do not require approval by the Zoning Enforcement Officer or compliance with an approved stream buffer management plan.
(1) 
Open space uses that are primarily passive in character, including wildlife sanctuaries, nature preserves, forest preserves, recreational trails and passive areas of public and private parklands.
(2) 
Fences for which a permit has been issued by the Construction Code Office (Notwithstanding the fact that they are permitted in a stream buffer conservation area, fences are still subject to approval by the Zoning Enforcement Officer as to compliance with the general requirements for fences, including Section 21-16.2).
(3) 
On residential lots, accessory uses and structures for which no permit is required from the Construction Code Office, including but not limited to driveways, patios, walkways, sheds not exceeding 100 square feet in area, private recreational or game areas, mowed lawns, landscaped and graded areas and gardens. The removal of trees in conjunction with any such accessory use or structure shall also be permitted, subject to approval of a tree removal permit, if applicable.
(4) 
Minimum required front, side and rear yards on private lots, provided that no minimum required yard may extend into Zone Two more than half the distance between the outer boundaries of Zone One and Zone Two (see Figure 204 located at the end of this chapter).
(5) 
Agricultural uses existing at the time of adoption of this subsection.
(b) 
Uses Requiring Township Approval. The following uses shall be permitted in Zone Two subject to approval by the Zoning Enforcement Officer and subject to compliance with an approved stream buffer management plan.
(1) 
New agricultural uses.
(2) 
Buffer crossings by farm vehicles and livestock, roads, railroads, stormwater lines, sanitary sewer lines, water lines and public utility transmission lines, provided that the land disturbance is the minimum required to accomplish the permitted use.
(3) 
Stormwater lines, sanitary sewer lines, water lines and public utility transmission lines running along, i.e., parallel to, the buffer, provided that the land disturbance is the minimum required to accomplish the permitted use and the lines are located as far from Zone One as practical.
(4) 
Selective cutting of trees, other than as permitted by right pursuant to Section 21-14.4c2(a)(3).
(5) 
Recreation areas, other than private recreational or game areas, such as camps, campgrounds, picnic areas, golf courses, ballfields, playgrounds and courts, provided these uses are designed in a manner that will not generate concentrated flow of stormwater.
(6) 
Naturalized stormwater basins, provided the entire basin is located a minimum of 50 feet from the defined edge of all streams.
(7) 
Reforestation.
d. 
Uses Specifically Prohibited in a Stream Buffer Conservation Area. Any use or activity not permitted pursuant to Section 21-14.4c shall be prohibited within a stream buffer conservation area. By way of example, the following uses and activities are specifically prohibited:
1. 
Clear-cutting of trees and other vegetation.
2. 
Selective cutting of trees and/or the clearing of other vegetation within Zone One, except where such cutting and/or clearing is necessary to prepare land for a use permitted pursuant to Section 21-14.4c1 and where the effects of these actions are mitigated by revegetation, in compliance with an approved stream buffer management plan.
3. 
Selective cutting of trees and/or the clearing of other vegetation within Zone Two, except where such cutting and/or clearing is necessary to prepare land for a use permitted pursuant to Section 21-14.4.c.2 and where the effects of these actions are mitigated by revegetation, in compliance with an approved stream buffer management plan.
4. 
Removal of trees in excess of selective cutting, except where such removal is necessary as a means to eliminate dead, diseased or hazardous tree stands that jeopardize public safety, or as part of a reforestation project, and the removal is in compliance with an approved stream buffer management plan.
5. 
Removal or disturbance of vegetation in a manner that is inconsistent with erosion control and buffer protection practices.
6. 
Storage of hazardous or noxious materials.
7. 
Use of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and/or other chemicals in excess of prescribed industry standards or the recommendations of the Somerset-Union Soil Conservation District.
8. 
Roads or driveways, except where permitted as buffer crossings in compliance with Section 21-14.4c1(b)(1) or Section 21-14.4c2(b)(2).
9. 
Motor and/or wheeled vehicle traffic in any area which, in the opinion of the approving authority, is not designed to adequately accommodate the type and volume of traffic.
[Ord. #1730, 7-13-2004, amended]
10. 
Parking lots.
11. 
Any type of permanent structure, excluding structures approved in conjunction with a use permitted pursuant to Section 21-14.4c.
12. 
Subsurface sewage disposal areas.
13. 
Sod farming.
14. 
Minimum required front, side and rear yards, except as permitted in Zone Two pursuant to Section 21-14.4.c2(a)(4) or as otherwise permitted pursuant to this subsection.
e. 
Nonconforming Structures and Uses in a Stream Buffer Conservation Area. Nonconforming structures and uses of land within a stream buffer conservation area shall be regulated under the provisions of Section 21-11 of the Land Development Ordinance. The following additional regulations shall also apply:
1. 
Existing nonconforming structures or uses within Zone One or Zone Two that are prohibited pursuant to Section 21-14.4d may be continued, provided the existing building footprint and use are not expanded or enlarged.
2. 
Discontinued nonconforming uses may be resumed at any time within one year from such discontinuance, but not thereafter. No change or resumption shall be permitted that is more detrimental to the stream buffer conservation area, as measured against the purposes and intent set forth in Section 21-14.4.a, than the existing or former nonconforming use. This one-year time limit shall not apply to agricultural uses that are following prescribed Best Management Practices for crop rotation.
f. 
Boundary Interpretation and Appeals Procedure.
1. 
A property owner or applicant may dispute a stream designation or the Zone (One or Two) boundaries of a stream buffer conservation area or the defined edge of a stream by submitting evidence to the Zoning Enforcement Officer that describes the designation/boundaries approved by the Township Engineer, the designation/boundaries proposed by the property owner or applicant and all justification for the proposed designation/boundary change. The evidence supporting a proposed stream designation must be provided by a New Jersey licensed professional engineer.
2. 
The Township Engineer or his appointed representative shall evaluate all material submitted and shall make a written determination within 45 days of receipt of a complete submission.
3. 
Any party aggrieved by any determination or decision under this subsection may appeal to the Zoning Board of Adjustment under the provisions of this subsection. The party contesting the determination or decision shall have the burden of proof in case of any such appeal.
g. 
Inspection of a Stream Buffer Conservation Area.
1. 
Lands within and adjacent to a stream buffer conservation area shall be inspected by the Zoning Enforcement Officer and/or the Township Engineer or his appointed representative when:
(a) 
A construction permit application affecting the stream buffer conservation area is submitted to the Construction Code Office.
(b) 
A development plan application affecting the stream buffer conservation area is submitted to the Planning Board or Board of Adjustment.
(c) 
A change or resumption of a nonconforming use within the stream buffer conservation area is proposed.
(d) 
A proposed stream buffer management plan is submitted to the Zoning Enforcement Officer.
2. 
A stream buffer conservation area may also be inspected by the Zoning Enforcement Officer and/or the Township Engineer or his appointed representative for compliance with this subsection, including compliance with an approved stream buffer management plan, at any time when the presence of a possible unauthorized use, activity or structure is brought to their attention.
h. 
Management of a Stream Buffer Conservation Area.
1. 
Stream Buffer Management Plan. With the exception of uses permitted by right pursuant to Subsection 21-14.4c1(a) or Subsection 21-14.4c2(a), no construction, development, use, activity, encroachment or structure shall be permitted within any stream buffer conservation area unless the effects of same are mitigated by implementation of an approved stream buffer management plan.
(a) 
At the time of submission of an application to the Construction Code Office for a construction permit or to the Planning Board or Board of Adjustment for approval of a development plan, or prior to commencing any use/activity that does not require a construction permit or development plan approval, the landowner or developer shall submit to the approving authority a proposed stream buffer management plan prepared by a landscape architect, professional engineer or other qualified professional. The proposed plan shall fully evaluate the effects of all proposed uses/activities on the stream buffer conservation area and shall identify existing conditions (vegetation, one-hundred-year floodplain, NJDEP special water resource protection areas, soils, slopes, etc.), all proposed uses/activities and all proposed management techniques, including proposed vegetation and any other measures necessary to offset disturbances to the stream buffer conservation area. The proposed plan shall be subject to approval by the approving authority.
(b) 
Vegetation Selection. Dominant vegetation in the stream buffer management plan shall consist of plant species that are suited to the stream buffer environment. The approving authority may require species suitability to be verified by qualified experts in the Somerset-Union Soil Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, US Fish and Wildlife Service and/or state or federal forest agencies.
(1) 
In Zone One, dominant vegetation shall consist of a variety of native trees, shrubs and tall grasses and shall include species that will provide streambank stabilization.
(2) 
In Zone Two, dominant vegetation shall consist of a variety of trees and shrubs, with an emphasis on native species and species that will provide soil stabilization.
(3) 
The stream buffer management plan shall provide for the revegetation of all disturbed areas to the extent possible. Where revegetation is not possible, the stream buffer management plan shall set forth the proposed measures for restoration.
(c) 
Performance Guarantee. Performance of the stream buffer management plan shall be guaranteed by a surety, such as a bond, cash or letter of credit, which shall be provided to the Township prior to the Township issuing any permits or approving any uses relating to the applicable use or activity.