Say Proposed Rules Bring More Balance to Highlands Law
Senator Steven Oroho and Assemblyman Parker Space (both R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) strongly oppose a resolution approved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee that seeks to block septic density changes for the Highlands Region proposed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).
Sen. Steven Oroho and Asm. Parker Space opposed a resolution that would block septic density changes in the Highlands region. (Morris County Preservation Trust)
“The NJDEP has proposed reasonable revisions to septic density standards for the Highlands Region that would provide a measure of relief to residents who have been negatively impacted by the Highlands Act,” said Oroho. “This thoughtful proposal would stimulate much needed job creation and economic growth in the region in a manner consistent with the goals of the Highlands Act, while protecting clean water and carefully preserved open space.”
The Senate Environment Committee approved a resolution, ACR-192/SCR-148, that would declare the NJDEP’s proposed septic system density standards in the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act Rules inconsistent with legislative intent.
The passage of the resolution is part of a process through which the Legislature can invalidate rules and regulations in whole or in part.
Assemblyman Parker Space pointed out that the proposed rule revisions by the NJDEP involving the nitrate data used over 19,000 data points as opposed to only 52 data points under the current rule of which a mere 7 were taken from the Highlands preservation area. “The DEP rule proposal is more scientifically sound than the previous model which was politically driven so as to stop even the most modest development in the Highlands Region,” said Space. He opposed ACR-192 when it passed the Assembly in December.
Oroho, however, noted that it is the current septic density standards in the Highlands Region that disregard legislative intent.
The Highlands Act states: “The Legislature further finds and declares that the New Jersey Highlands provides a desirable quality of life and place where people live and work; that it is important to ensure the economic viability of communities throughout the New Jersey Highlands; and that residential, commercial, and industrial development, redevelopment, and economic growth in certain appropriate areas of the New Jersey Highlands are also in the best interests of all the citizens of the State, providing innumerable social, cultural, and economic benefits and opportunities.”
“Protecting the quality of life of Highlands residents, ensuring the economic viability of Highlands communities, and promoting economic growth in appropriate areas of the Highlands are clearly designated goals of the Highlands Act,” added Oroho. “Today’s septic density standards do not support those goals. The NJDEP’s proposal is necessary to realign today’s stifling septic density standards with the clearly expressed legislative intent of the Highlands Act to promote economic growth and opportunity in the Highlands Region.”
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