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Division of Land Use Regulation
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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Linear Development

  • Overview
  • Freshwater Wetlands
  • Flood Hazard
  • Coastal
  • Tidelands

Linear development refers to land uses for which the basic function is to connect two points.  Examples of linear development include but are not limited to: roads, drives, railroads, sewer and stormwater pipes, gas and water pipelines, as well as electrical, telephone transmission lines.  Linear development does not encompass residential, commercial, office, or industrial buildings, utility lines, pipelines, or internal circulation roads within a development.

Linear development may result in impacts to “special areas” that are regulated by the Department and may require multiple permits from the Division of Land Use Regulation prior to site preparation or construction. The presence or absence of special areas can be rudimentarily determined using the Department’s online mapping service, NJ-GeoWeb.  Special areas within your project site may also affect the type of authorization required.  Therefore, it is important to closely examine a proposed activity relative to the sensitive areas which may be impacted. 

The above tabs provide additional information on permit requirements relating to linear development.   For impacts to streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, flood plains, flood ways, riparian zones, please see the "Flood Hazard" tab. For impacts to special coastal areas, please see the "Coastal" tab. For impacts to Freshwater Wetlands, see the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab.  Information on Tidelands can be found by selecting the "Tidelands" tab.

 

The maintenance or construction of linear development within freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters requires a Freshwater Wetlands (FWW) permit or FWW Transition Area waiver. Several FWW General Permits (GP) are available for these types of activities.

(GP1-Maintenance and repair of existing features) [V:\lum\LUR\WebDev\fww\fww_gp01.html] - May be obtained if you have an exsiting linear development and are conducting repairs or maintenance to it and not increasing disturbances to freshwater wetlands, transition areas, or State open waters.

(GP2-Underground utility lines) [V:\lum\LUR\WebDev\fww\fww_gp02.html] - May be obtained if you have are installing an underground utility line such as a gas pipe, sewer pipe, or underground electric line across freshwater wetlands, transition areas, or State open waters and disturbing no more than 0.5 acres of those features. Also any disturbance over 0.1 acres to wetlands under a GP2 the applicant is required to provide (mitigation) [V:\lum\LUR\WebDev\mitigate.html].

(GP10A-Very minor road crossings) [Link] - May be obtained if you have are installing or improving a roadway or driveway, that in general is disturbing less than 100 feet and 0.25 acres or is disturbing less than one eighth acre or less of freshwater wetlands, transition areas, or State open waters .

(GP10B-Minor road crossings) [Link] - May be obtained if you have are installing or improving a roadway or driveway, that in general is disturbing less than 0.25 acres of freshwater wetlands, transition areas, or State open waters and there are no alternative onsite locations or configurations which would provide access with less evironmental impacts.

(GP21-Above ground utility lines) [Link] - May be obtained if you have are installing an above ground utility line such as a telephone, cable, or electric line across freshwater wetlands, transition areas, or State open waters and disturbing no more than 0.5 acres of those features. Also any disturbance over 0.1 acres to wetlands under a GP21 the applicant is required to provide (mitigation) [V:\lum\LUR\WebDev\mitigate.html].

Transition Area Waivers (TAW)
(TAW - Averaging Plan) [Link] - May be obtained for impacts from linear development to transition areas only, but not in combination with any General Permit which would increase the allowable amount of disturbance under that permit.

(TAW - Linear Development) [Link] - May be obtained for impacts from linear development to transition areas only, but not in combination with any General Permit which would increase the allowable amount of disturbance under that permit. In addition, there must be no feasibile alternative location for the linear development, including modifying the route, reducing the width, or utilizing areas not owned by the applicant. Also the proposed utility line must meet the definition of (Linear Development) [Link] under the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules, specifically, connecting two exsiting points with a new utility line.

If the linear development cannot comply with the criteria for the above listed GP's and TAW's, the applicant would need to apply for an (Individual Permit) [Link] (IP). An IP application would need to include a description as to why the project cannot be minimized to satisfy the General Permit criteria described in the links above.

There are many potential permitting options for linear development under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules at N.J.A.C. 7:13.   This webpage focuses on roadways and railroads not associated with agriculture. See the “Utility Lines,” “Trails and Boardwalks,” and “Agricultural Activities” sections of the “Common Project Types” page for more information on other types of linear development.

Several permits-by-rule and general permits-by-certifications may apply to linear development activities. In addition to the specific requirements of each permit, activities under these permits must comply with the requirements of N.J.A.C. 7:13-6.7. All permits are subject to the conditions that apply to all permits at N.J.A.C. 7:13-22.2.

Permit-by-rule 1 at N.J.A.C. 7:13-7.1 authorizes routine property maintenance. This permit may be used for activities such as mowing vegetation within an actively disturbed area and removing trash and debris by hand in order to ensure the continued safe use of an existing right-of-way.

Permit-by-rule 40 authorizes the milling, repaving, and/or resurfacing of existing pavement. These activities cannot expand the area of pavement, and cannot raise the surface of the pavement at all in a floodway. Pavement in a fluvial flood fringe or in an area mapped as within a fluvial 100-year floodplain cannot be raised more than a cumulative total of three inches. Disturbance to riparian zone vegetation is limited to actively disturbed areas within 20 feet of the pavement.

Permit-by-rule 41 authorizes the placement of a guiderail along a public roadway. The installation of the guiderail must be required and overseen by the public entity with jurisdiction over the roadway. The location and amount of riparian zone that may be disturbed is strictly limited.

General permit-by-certification 15 authorizes the in-kind replacement of public infrastructure, including roads and railroads, which has been damaged by flooding or another severe weather event that resulted in the Governor of New Jersey declaring a State of Emergency or FEMA declaring a major disaster in New Jersey. This general permit-by-certification may be used where a public entity has determined that immediate action is necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare, or the environment. An engineering certification is required to ensure all applicable design and construction standards are met. Activities must commence within 180 days of the date the State of Emergency or FEMA major disaster declaration was announced and be completed within 180 days of issuance of the permit. The permittee must provide a statement to the Department following the completion of activities describing the activities completed, confirming the requirements of the permit were met, and including site plans, photos, or other information to demonstrate compliance.

If the above permits do not apply, a verification and individual permit may be required, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:13-5 and N.J.A.C. 7:13-10, 11, and 12, respectively. The specific standards for the construction of a railroad or public roadway in a riparian zone are located at N.J.A.C. 7:13-11.2(g), while the standards for a private driveway or roadway, or any other roadway, in a riparian zone are located at N.J.A.C. 7:13-11.2(h). Design and construction standards for railroads and roadways are located at N.J.A.C. 7:13-12.6.

If the proposed project is regulated pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management rules at N.J.A.C. 7:7, then no separate Flood Hazard approval is required.  In these instances, the applicant need only submit a report and plans demonstrating compliance with the Flood Hazard Area Control Act rules as part of the coastal permit application

Linear development within coastal areas generally requires a permit.  There are no coastal Permits-by-rule, General Permits-by-Certification, or General Permits available for linear development.  However, the below exemptions may apply.  If the below exemptions do not apply, the project may require a CAFRA, Coastal Wetlands and/or Waterfront Development Individual Permit. 

The “Jurisdiction” tab of the "Coastal Areas" webpage can help you determine which areas of your site may be regulated.  The availability of certain permits depends on the project’s location.

Potentially applicable Exemptions:

Please see applicable rule for complete requirements.

  • The maintenance, repair or replacement of existing and functional railroads and related structures within CAFRA jurisdiction and located completely within cleared and maintained rights-of-way per N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.2(b)2iv.
  • The construction of a new road, sanitary sewer pipeline, petroleum pipeline or natural gas pipeline of less than 1,200’ in length or the extension of a road, sanitary sewer pipeline, stormwater management facility, petroleum pipeline or natural gas pipeline of less than 1,200’ in length, not to exceed a cumulative total of 1,200’ in any one municipality at any one site, provided the construction is not located within a development requiring a CAFRA permit per N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.2(b)3i.
  • The routine reconstruction, substantially similar functional replacement, maintenance or repair of public highways (excluding the paving of an unpaved roadway) by any government entity, within CAFRA jurisdiction and an existing public right-of-way per N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.2(c)6i.
  • Public highway lane widening, intersection and shoulder improvement projects (including paving and repaving) by any government entity, within CAFRA jurisdiction and the existing public right-of-way provided there is no increase the number of travel lanes per N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.2(c)6ii.
  • The installation of public highway signs, lighting, guide rails and other non-intrusive safety projects (including traffic control devices) by any government entity, within CAFRA jurisdiction and an existing public right-of-way per N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.2(c)6iii.
  • Within CAFRA jurisdiction, the re-striping of public highways and the addition of toll booths by any government entity provided the activities do not result in any increase in asphalt or concrete pavement per N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.2(c)6iv.
  • The reconstruction, conversion, alteration, or enlargement of any existing structure within Upland Waterfront Development jurisdiction and located more than 100’ landward of the mean high water line provided no change in land use results and the enlargement is not greater than 5,000 sq. ft. per N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.4(d)2.
  • The minor addition to or changes in existing structures within Upland Waterfront Development jurisdiction which do not result in adverse environmental impacts to special areas provided the addition is located in an existing cleared area of the site, is set back a minimum of 15’ from the mean high water line and such changes do not result in a change in land use per N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.4(d)3.

Please contact the Division’s Technical Support Center at (609) 777-0454 should you require further assistance.

Tidelands, also known as riparian lands, are all those lands now or formerly flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway; that is to say any land that is currently or was previously covered by tidal waters.  The State of New Jersey, and therefore the people of New Jersey, owns all Tidelands except for those to which it has already sold its interest in the form of a riparian grant.  It is important to note that the State generally does not own artificial waterways such as lagoons however, the State does claim those lands within a lagoon that were flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway which existed prior to the creation of the lagoon.

The construction of a linear development that is proposed in a tidelands area may require a tidelands license if the activities are taking place at or below the mean high water line of a tidal waterway or a tidelands grant if any portion of the activities are taking place in an area that is currently landward of the mean high water line but was, at some point, flowed by the tide.

A tidelands license is a short term revocable rental document to use tidelands generally for structures such as docks, bulkhead extensions, mooring piles, and other temporary structures as well as for dredging projects. Licenses are project specific and expire after a finite term ranging from one to ten years. Most licenses may be renewed.

A riparian grant, or tidelands grant, is a deed from the State of New Jersey selling its tidelands. Tidelands grants are generally only issued for lands that have already been filled in and are no longer flowed by the tide.

For more information on tidelands instruments, please see the tidelands section of this website.

For information and instruction on how to determine whether you are in an area that may require either a license or a grant, or for information how to apply for Tideland instruments please see the "Before you Build, Before you Buy" webpage.

 

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Last Updated: June 20, 2016