Tagged: Zoning & Permitting

USEPA Provides Draft Guidance on Application of “Functional Equivalent” Analysis for Clean Water Act Permitting Program

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) issued a Draft Guidance Memorandum regarding how to apply the Supreme Court’s most recent Clean Water Act decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund from earlier this year. In that case (which we previously wrote about here and here), the Court held that the Clean Water Act Section 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program requires a permit where there is a “functional equivalent of a direct discharge” from a “point source” into “navigable waters.” As the USEPA draft guidance notes, the Court’s decision outlines “seven non-exclusive factors that regulators and the regulated community may consider in determining whether a “functional equivalent of a direct discharge” exists in a particular circumstance. The draft guidance aims to place the functional equivalent standard “into context within existing NPDES permitting framework.” Additionally, the draft guidance “identifies an additional factor” relevant to the analysis. The draft guidance emphasizes that the County of Maui decision did not modify the two threshold conditions that trigger the requirements for a permit. These conditions are that there must be an actual discharge of a pollutant to a water of the United States, and that that discharge must be from a point source. “Instead, Maui clarified that an NPDES permit is required for only...

NJABC Extends Time Period for COVID-19 Expansion Permit

On October 19, 2020, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“Division”) issued a new special ruling (the “October Special Ruling”) that allows the currently issued COVID-19 Expansion of Premises Permit (“COVID-19 Expansion Permit”) to be extended to March 31, 2021. We previously discussed the Division’s special ruling issued on June 3, 2020 (the “June Special Ruling”) that coincided with Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 150, which allowed licensees or permittees with on-premises retail consumption privileges to reopen and serve patrons in “outdoor areas.” The COVID-19 Expansion Permit established through the June Special Ruling allowed licensees and permittees to expand their licensed premises into outdoor areas, either contiguous or non-contiguous to their permanently licensed premises. Applications for an extension of the COVID-19 Expansion Permit will be available later this month and must be submitted no later than November 23, 2020. The June Special Ruling originally set the expiration of the COVID-19 Expansion Permit as November 30, 2020. However, due to the continuing effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the alcoholic beverage industry, and the continued requirements for indoor capacity limits and social distancing, the Division found it appropriate to allow licensees to apply to renew the COVID-19 Expansion Permits. The Division noted that, to date, it has issued more than 2,300 COVID-19 Expansion Permits....

Jordan Asch to Participate in Upcoming NJSBA Panel Discussion – “Resolving Everyday Environmental Problems” – November 5

Jordan M. Asch, an Associate in the Gibbons Environmental Department, will participate in an upcoming panel discussion presented by the New Jersey State Bar Association, in cooperation with its Environmental Law Section. The panel, “Resolving Everyday Environmental Problems,” will take place virtually on Thursday, November 5 from 9:00 – 10:30 am. The discussion will cover some of the complex, and often expensive, environmental issues that small businesses and homeowners may face, including site remediation issues, funding sources, environmental permitting, and the permitting process. Attorneys who represent small business owners that own or lease real property, or that may develop or improve real property, as well as homeowners that may face environmental remediation or permitting issues are encouraged to attend. For additional information or to register, click here.

NJDEP Solicits Input as It Begins Process of Drafting Regulations to Implement Landmark Environmental Justice Legislation

As we reported, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently signed the nation’s first environmental justice law, which seeks to address the unfair distribution of the environmental and public health impacts of polluting activities by imposing additional requirements on parties seeking to site, expand, or renew permits for various types of facilities in “overburdened communities,” which are defined in the statute in terms of economic and demographic criteria. The statute requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to promulgate regulations to implement its requirements. NJDEP began the public process of developing those regulations on October 22 when Olivia Glenn, Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Justice and Equity, and Sean Moriarty, Chief Advisor for Regulatory Affairs, hosted an online public information session in which they sought the public’s input on how the regulations should address numerous definitional and procedural issues. (The statute will not take effect until NJDEP promulgates its regulations.) Companies seeking to obtain or renew certain NJDEP permits for new or expanded facilities that fall within the statute’s scope and are located in overburdened communities must prepare an “environmental justice impact statement” and provide for expanded public hearings on their project. In addition to applying the requirements of other applicable statutes and regulations, NJDEP must then determine if the proposed new or expanded facility...

New Jersey Governor Signs Environmental Justice Legislation

On September 18, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation intended to address the disproportionate environmental and public health impacts of pollution on overburdened communities. The legislation, versions of which have been proposed several times over the past decade, imposes additional requirements on companies seeking permits for new or expanded facilities under a variety of environmental statutes. It also requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to evaluate how the proposed permitted activities would impact those communities determined to be “overburdened” under the new law. Earlier this summer, marking the “Juneteenth” anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the United States, Governor Murphy had indicated his support for the legislation, which some environmental advocates have dubbed the “holy grail” of the environmental justice movement. Although critics of the law raised concerns about its effect on manufacturing and business investment in New Jersey, the bill passed the state legislature in late August, with votes of 49-28-1 in the state Assembly and 21-14 in the state Senate. The types of facilities covered by the new law include certain power plants, incinerators, sewage treatment plants, solid waste facilities, and landfills, as well as other facilities deemed to be “major sources of air pollution” (as determined by the federal Clean Air Act). Governor Murphy stated that,...

NJ Governor Supports Additional NJDEP Permitting Requirements to Address Environmental Justice Concerns

On June 19, 2020, Governor Murphy announced his support for proposed legislation that would require the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), and permit applicants, to take additional steps prior to permits being issued for new or expanded facilities under a wide variety of state environmental statutes. The proposed legislation, which aims to protect those communities that historically have been most impacted by pollution from industrial and related activities, would require the NJDEP to publish and maintain a list of those communities determined to be “overburdened.” In the proposed legislation, “overburdened community” is defined as: “any census block group, as determined in accordance with the most recent United States Census, in which at least one half of the households qualify as low income households, and either: (1) at least 40 percent of the residents of the census block group identify as Black, African American, Hispanic or Latino, or as members of a State-recognized tribal community; or (2) at least 40 percent of the households in the census block group have limited English proficiency.” Prior to approval of covered permit applications, an applicant would be required to assess and prepare an environmental impact statement to outline both the existing environmental and health stressors already borne by the relevant community, as well as any additional impacts...

Is Your Property Historic? You Might Not Think So, But Always Check!

In a state like New Jersey, land in urban or developed areas is often at a premium, and developers will need to be mindful of whether the property has any historical significance. In addition to the standard approvals required from local planning or zoning boards, one approval that is commonly overlooked is that of the local historic preservation office or commission. These entities are authorized under the Municipal Land Use Law, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-107 et seq., and are now common in municipalities large and small throughout New Jersey. Where a formal commission exists, applications for development are to be referred to the historic preservation commission for review whenever applications involve property in historic districts or on historic sites identified by the official map or master plan. In other municipalities, there may be an application and approval process separate from the typical land development board. Some are required as part of completeness obligations for applications for development, where others are a separate process from the typical application for development. One active historic preservation commission has been the City of Newark’s Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission (the “Commission”). This article provides a brief primer on when Commission approval is required, and what developers can expect during the application and approval process in the City of Newark (“the City”)....

New York Appeals Court Decision Highlights the Risks of Not Filing Decisions and Not Holding Duly Noticed Public Hearings

A recent decision by New York’s Appellate Division, Second Department, serves as a reminder of the importance of promptly filing administrative determinations, holding required duly noticed public hearings, and the consequences of failing to do so. In Corrales v. Zoning Board of Appeals of the Village of Dobbs Ferry, Livingston Development Group in November 2012 submitted an application for the development of twelve condominiums. The Building Department forwarded the application to the Planning Board, which conducted a public hearing after which it recommended approval subject to certain conditions. The Village Board of Trustees, which retained site plan approval authority, granted site plan approval conditioned on, among other things, the applicant obtaining approval from the Architectural and Historic Review Board (the “AHRB”). Thereafter, the applicant applied to the AHRB, which denied its application. The applicant appealed the denial to the Zoning Board of Appeals (“ZBA”). While that appeal was pending, neighbors – one of whom did not receive notice of the Planning Board’s earlier public hearing – asserted that the proposed condominium use was not permitted in the zoning district. The neighbors’ attorney also raised this issue at a subsequent meeting of the AHRB, during which the assistant building inspector gave the opinion that the proposed use complied with applicable zoning regulations. The neighbors, viewing the...

NYSDEC Adopts Update to SEQR Regulations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) announced on June 28, 2018 that it had adopted a rulemaking package directed at updating its regulations relating to the State Environmental Quality Review (“SEQR”). The updates – DEC’s first to its SEQR regulations in more than two decades – are the product of an effort that began in February 2017 with the DEC’s filing of an initial notice and, following a series of public comment periods and subsequent revisions, culminated with its publication of the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (“FGEIS”) and revised text of the regulations. As revised, the regulations become effective on January 1, 2019 and apply to all actions for which a determination of significance has not been made by January 1, 2019. For projects that receive a determination of significance made prior to January 1, 2019, the existing SEQR regulations (which originally took effect in 1996) will continue to apply. Once effective, the revised regulations could have a significant impact on SEQR’s applicability to future development projects. The new regulations contemplate a number of mechanical changes to the environmental review process itself, including mandatory scoping of environmental impact statements, changes to the required content of environmental impact statements (“EIS”), as well as new requirements relating to the preparation and filing environmental impact...

Howard Geneslaw Argues Before NJ Supreme Court in Dunbar Homes on Behalf of NJ State Bar Association

On Monday, April 9, 2018, Howard D. Geneslaw, a Director in the Gibbons Real Property Department, argued before the Supreme Court of New Jersey on behalf of the New Jersey State Bar Association (“NJSBA”) as an amicus curiae in the matter of Dunbar Homes, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of the Township of Franklin. The NJSBA was one of several amici involved in this case of first impression on the key question of when a submission to a municipal planning board is considered an “application for development” for purposes of being afforded protection under the “time of application” rule. The “time of application” rule provides that the zoning regulations which govern the review of an application for development are those in effect at the time it is submitted. The issue to be decided by the New Jersey Supreme Court centers on what constitutes submission of an application for development which allows the applicant to invoke the protection of the “time of application” rule. The Appellate Division, in a reported decision, ruled that protection is not available until an applicant submits all documents specified in the municipality’s application checklist adopted by ordinance, although the application need not have been deemed complete for protection to vest, but did not address what occurs when the checklist is...