Governor Phil Murphy • Lt.Governor Sheila Oliver

NJ Home | Services A to Z | Departments/Agencies | FAQs  

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

DEP Home | About DEP | Index by Topic | Programs/Units | DEP Online

Division Information
HomeNews & NoticesForms & ChecklistsMaps & GuidanceLaws & RulesContact Land UseSubscribe to E-Newsletter

PermittingCommon Project TypesFreshwater WetlandsStreams & Rivers (FHA)Coastal AreasTidelandsHighlandsMitigationPermit Extension ActElectronic (E) ServicesApplication Status

Related InformationFederal AgenciesPrograms/Commissions

Freshwater Wetlands - Application Guidance
Above Ground Utility Lines (General Permit 21)

  • Overview
  • Application Guidance
  • Rules
  • FAQ

General permit 21 authorizes the following activities in freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters, necessary for the construction of an above ground utility line.

  • Installation of poles, towers, or other supports from which to suspend a pipe, wire or cable;
  • Construction of a pad mounted transformer;
  • Placement of an above ground pipe, wire or cable;
  • Clearing of vegetation under and around utility lines; and
  • Minor, (temporary disturbances) [link to definition at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-1.4] necessary for access during construction.

In order to determine whether or not an area of freshwater wetlands, transition areas or State open waters may be disturbed by any proposed activity, detailed information about that wetlands and the site must be obtained, and an inspection of the property by a representative of the Department is required. The Department offers a “Letter of Interpretation" (LOI), which is a document that may describe if there are wetlands on the property, and if so, where they are located.

This page is for informational purposes only. Please see N.J.A.C. 7:7A-5.21 for the precise rules concerning this General Permit.

To be eligible for a GP21, the temporary disturbance during construction can't be more than 60 feet wide, and the permanent disturbance at the conclusion of the project can't be more than a 1/2 acre or wider than 20 feet.

Activities under this general permit must not interfere with the natural hydrologic characteristics of the freshwater wetland (FWW), transition area (TA), or State open water (SOW). If the applicant has to place the utility line on pilings to avoid this issue, that that may be a requirement to satisfy this condition. The main concern here is the inadvertant creation of a "french drain" or other type of structure that would act to drain or otherwise alter the FWW, TA or SOW.

The Permittee is also required to mitigate for all permanent loss and/or disturbance of 0.1 acres or greater of freshwater wetlands and/or State open waters.

Getting a GP21: If you believe that your project will require a GP21, and you do not know how to apply for one, we suggest that you visit "The Permit Process" section of this website for more information. It will give you a general overview on the ins and outs of permitting, and will direct you to the forms necessary to apply. Please be advised that any application submitted must follow the procedures and information requireme. If you intend on applying for multiple freshwater wetland general permits, be advised that there are strict limits on what can and cannot be applied for, with a 1 acre cap on wetland disturbance for any one project site.

All freshwater wetland general permits must comply with all applicable requirements at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-4.3, Conditions that apply to all general permits, and N.J.A.C. 7:7A-13.2, Establishing permit conditions.

Note: The Department has, for your convenience, developed an Application Checklist for General Permits. Please follow carefully the requirements as outlined on this checklist to insure that you have all of the required information necessary to complete and process your application.

A direct link to the rules cited in our standard approval letter under "Permit Conditions" for this General Permit can be found below.

7:7A-5.21 General permit 21 - Above Ground Utility Lines

7:7A-4.3 Conditions that apply to all general permit authorizations

7:7A-13.1 Standard conditions that apply to all permits

7:7A - Index to the entire rule.

Please Note: The Department has made every effort to ensure that the text of this regulation is identical to the official, legally effective version set forth in the New Jersey Register. However, should there be any discrepancies between the text on this web site and the official version of the rule, the official version will govern. For more information on obtaining official versions of the rules, How To Get a Paper Copy of Department Rules

Frequently Asked Questions

If you do not see an answer to your question below, please use the Land Use Contact form on this website. We will make every attempt to answer your question as promptly as possible.

Q.When do I need to obtain a Freshwater Wetland General Permit 21?

A. When you are proposing to install poles, towers, other support structures to suspend a pipe, wire or cable and this activity will disturb freshwater wetlands, freshwater wetland transition areas and/or State open water; construct a pad mounted transformer; placement of an above ground pipe, wire or cable; clearing of vegetation under and around utility lines; and minor, temporary disturbances as necessary for access.

Q. Is mitigation required?

A. Mitigation is required for all permanent loss and/or disturbance of 0.1 acres or greater of freshwater wetlands and/or State open waters

bottom bar

Division: home | news/notices | laws/rules | forms/checklists | maps/guidance | contact
Department: njdep home | about dep | index by topic | programs/units | dep online
Statewide: njhome | citizen | business | government | services A to Z | departments | search

Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2018
Last Updated: August 26, 2019