[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Hopatcong 5-4-1995 by Ord. No. 9-95. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Mayor and Council of the Borough of Hopatcong hereby find that the preservation of land for use as a natural area promotes the public health, prosperity and general welfare and constitutes an important social, ecological, economic and aesthetic asset to the present and future residents of the Borough of Hopatcong, that the lands available for such purpose are continually diminishing in supply and are threatened by urban development and the expansion of population.
The following properties owned by the Borough of Hopatcong and as currently designated on the Tax Maps of the Borough of Hopatcong are hereby designated as part of the Borough Natural Area Preserve and are regulated for that purpose as described in § 154-4 hereof:
All properties currently owned by the Borough of Hopatcong and all properties hereinafter acquired by the Borough of Hopatcong by any means which lie within the following Block designations (as shown on the current Tax Maps of the Borough of Hopatcong) are hereby designated as part of the Borough Natural Area Preserve and are regulated pursuant to § 154-4 hereof:
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSION
- The conservation commission constituted by ordinance (Chapter 5, Article II, of this Code) in the Borough of Hopatcong, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:56A-1 to 40:56A-5, for the purpose of protecting and developing natural resources within the municipality and whose powers and duties include obtaining and disseminating information as the means of preserving and restoring natural resources, including natural areas, recommending to the Mayor and Council plans and programs for the preservation and restoration of natural areas and, subject to that approval of the governing body, the supervision or implementation of such program.
- MANAGEMENT PLAN
- A comprehensive environmental plan for the management, preservation or restoration of a natural area. Said plan shall include recommended permitted uses for the land lying within the Natural Area Preserve, including the extent and motive of said uses and recommended prohibited uses for said natural area. Said plan shall ensure that any permitted uses in the Natural Area Preserve shall consider the fragile nature of the environment contained therein.
- NATURAL AREA
- An area of land or water which retains its primeval character or, if previously disturbed, which is managed and preserved so as to restore its primitive qualities.
- Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, organization or legal entity of any kind, including municipal corporations, governmental agencies or subdivision.
- RECREATION, ACTIVE
- Leisure-time activities, usually of a formal nature and often performed with others, requiring equipment and taking place at prescribed places, sites or fields.
- RECREATION, PASSIVE
- Activities that involve relatively inactive or less energetic activities, such as walking, sitting, picnicking, card games, chess, checkers and similar table games. Passive recreation can also mean open space for nature walks and observation, running trails or nonmotorized biking trails.
No use shall be made of the within described Natural Area Preserve, except as may be set forth in a management plan for the natural area as may be developed by the Environmental Commission in consultation with the Borough Recreation Commission and adopted by the Mayor and Council; provided, however, that only such uses which are consistent with the preservation of a natural area shall be allowed, including but not limited to the establishment of a wildlife sanctuary or conservation area, the operation of programs of ecological study or the study of natural sciences, the creation of a place of refuge and passive recreation for the residents of the Borough of Hopatcong. All other active recreational uses are expressly prohibited, including but not limited to ballplaying, access by motor vehicles (except emergency vehicles) and horseback riding. The Mayor and Council may, by resolution, adopt specific regulations or guidelines specifically defining prohibited and permitted uses within the Natural Area Preserve.
The following are specifically permitted uses within the Natural Area Preserve:
The installation of a connector roadway from the Hopatcong Hills area to the Sparta-Stanhope Road area.
The sale of land adjacent to existing privately owned substandard properties on the boundary of the natural area, provided that said sale is made in accordance with New Jersey law and after consultation with the Environmental Commission as to the impact of said sale on the natural area.
Any other uses as contained in the approved Natural Area Management Plan.
Public hunting pursuant to the requirements set forth in Chapter 100, Article I, entitled "Hunting on Municipally Owned Property," and in accordance with all of the laws, rules and regulations of the State of New Jersey and the Borough of Hopatcong.
[Added 9-19-2012 by Ord. No. 24-2012; amended 9-16-2015 by Ord. No. 27-2015]
The area designated under this chapter as a natural area shall not be disposed of or diverted to a use other than that provided for a natural area without the approval of the governing body of the Borough of Hopatcong. A public hearing by the governing body shall occur at least one month prior to such approval. Any such hearing must be publicly advertised and specific notice of such hearing shall be provided to the Borough Environmental Commission, Recreation Commission and Planning Board.
Any person violating or causing to be violated any of the provisions of this chapter or a regulation adopted pursuant to this chapter shall be punished by a minimum fine in the amount of $100 and a maximum fine of $500 for each violation of this chapter. Each day of such violation shall constitute a separate offense. Any person violating the provisions of this chapter shall be liable to the Borough for any expense, loss or damage caused to the Borough by reason of such violation.