This courtesy copy of the Act incorporates all of the amendments listed below. The official version of the Act consists of the 2004 Act and the five separate amendments set forth at the links below.

Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act (pdf)
UPDATED THROUGH  P.L. 2016, ch.32, and JR 3 of 2016


Official Version of the Highlands Act

Highlands Act of 2004:  P.L. 2004, c.120 (pdf)

  • P.L.2015, c.5 (February 5, 2015): Extends expiration date of special appraisal process for Green Acres and farmland preservation program through June 30, 2019 for lands in the Highlands Region.
  • P.L.2010, c.70 (Sept. 9, 2010): Extends expiration date of special appraisal process for Green Acres and farmland preservation programs from 2009 to 2014 for lands in the Highlands Region.
  • P.L. 2010, c.7 (May 5, 2010): Authorizes any municipality outside the Highlands Region to establish receiving zones for Highlands Transfer of Development Rights program.
  • P.L. 2010, c.4 (April 22, 2010): Exempts solar panels from impervious surface or impervious cover designation.
  • P.L. 2009, c.256 (January 17, 2010): Adds Forest Stewardship Plans to Exemption 7 of the Highlands Act.

There are a number of Administrative Codes (Rules) that relate to implementation of the Highlands Act. The Highlands Council works in collaboration with other state agencies to ensure coordination of activities and programs affecting the Highlands.


The Highlands Act includes 17 exemptions from the provisions of Act and Regional Master Plan. In addition, the DEP Highlands Rules include 4 waivers that allow some degree of deviation from the enhanced environmental standards of the Act.

Full text of the exemptions can be found in the Highlands Act at C.13:20-28.  Full text of the waivers can be found in the DEP Highlands Rules at 7:38-6.4. The fourth waiver, 7:38-6.9 Waiver for the construction of a 100 percent affordable housing development, was added to Highlands Rules during the 2005 re-adoption with amendments. Full text of the waiver can be found in the New Jersey Register, Volume 37, Issue 24, December 19, 2005.

In 2012, a Memorandum of Understanding provided authority to Highlands municipalities to issue 7 of the most common exemptions following completion of a training and certification program with the Highlands Council.

Highlands Council Municipal Exemption Determination Program

Executive Orders