Currently, in response to the Highlands Act's mandate that all permitted activity in the Highlands Preservation Area reflect a policy of “non-degradation” of groundwater resources, new construction of residential units on septic systems require a minimum acreage of:
88 acres in forested areas
25 acres in non-forested (agricultural) areas
In an amendment to the Highlands Preservation Area Rules (NJAC 7:38), DEP is proposing to decrease the minimum acres to:
11 acres in the Existing Community Zone (Highlands Council Land Use Capability Zone Map)
12 acres in the Conservation Zone (agricultural areas)
22 acres in the Protection Zone (forested areas)
The proposed change would result in an average 400% increase in allowed development in the Highlands Preservation Area, the 415,000-acre core forest that acts as a natural, no-cost water filtration system, thus providing 70% of New Jersey with a plentiful supply of clean water. Increasing the amount of new construction further compromises the ability of the Highlands Preservation Area forest to provide this ecological service, permanently.
PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND THE HEARING!
More details to follow.
Read our recent OpEd on nj.com and The Star-Ledger here. Below is the design for our parody that will appear on a billboard outside of NJDEP headquarters in Trenton: