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

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Pilings

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

Piling installation and/or replacement generally coincides with the construction of a mooring area, boat lift, dock and/or pier within water areas.  Piling installation and/or replacement may result in impacts to “special areas” that are regulated by the Department.  Therefore, it is important to closely examine a proposed project relative to the sensitive areas on site.  Special areas can be rudimentarily determined using the Department’s online mapping service, NJ-GeoWeb.   

The above tabs provide additional information on permit requirements relating to pilings.  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 placement of Pilings is not a regulated activity in State open waters under the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules, however it is a regulated activity when conducted in Freshwater Wetlands or Freshwater Wetlands Transition Areas. The type of general permit (GP) available depends on the activity for which you are applying.

If your are constructing a trail or boardwalk which requires pilings, then you would either apply for a GP 17 or GP 17a. For more information, go to trails and boardwalks, to determine which of these to apply for.

If you are constructing a Dock or Pier, then you would possibly apply for a FWW GP19. Go to Docks and Piers, to determine if this permit is the correct choice for your project.

If the project cannot comply with the criteria for any of these general permits the applicant would need to apply for an Individual Permit (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.

Pilings generally are used to support other structures such as docks, decks, elevated homes, etc.  The pilings will not be specifically regulated; however, those structures on the pilings will be regulated.

Piling installation may qualify for an exemption, Permit-by-rule, General Permit-by-Certification, or a General Permit.  If the project does not meet the requirements of the aforementioned authorizations, a CAFRA, Coastal Wetlands, and/or Waterfront Development Individual Permit may be required.

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 Exemption: 

Per N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.4(d)8, a Waterfront Development Permit shall not be required for the repair, replacement, renovation, or reconstruction, in the same location and size, as measured in two dimensions, that is, length and width, of the preexisting structure, of any floating dock, mooring raft, or similar temporary or seasonal improvement or structure, legally existing prior to January 1, 1981, that appears on the applicable Tidelands Map, or that appears on the applicable coastal wetlands map identified pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.4(c) and chapter Appendix D, or that received a waterfront development permit subsequent to the date of the Tidelands Map or coastal wetlands map, as applicable, provided that the repair, replacement, renovation, or reconstruction is in the same location and size as the preexisting structure, and does not exceed in length the waterfront frontage of the parcel of real property to which it is attached and is used solely for the docking of servicing of pleasure vessels. 

Potentially applicable General Permit-by-Certification:

The General Permit-by-Certification 15 at N.J.A.C. 7:7-5.2 of the Coastal Zone Management rules authorizes construction of piers, docks, including jet ski ramps, pilings, and boatlifts in man-made lagoons.

Potentially applicable General Permit (GP):

GP 15 - authorizes the construction of piers, docks including jet ski ramps, pilings and boatlifts in man-made lagoons.

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.  

The proposed placement/driving of pilings that are 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 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. 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.

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: July 7, 2015