Ordinance No. 14-09

Introduced: June 9, 2014
Public Hearing: July 14, 2014
Status: Adopted

An ordinance amending Chapter 330 Land Development Ordinance, to repeal Ordinance 13-10 which established Article XIX Highlands Preservation Area Requirements and replace it with Article XIX Highlands Preservation Area Land Use Ordinance to regulate development in the Highlands preservation area of the Township of Vernon

Note: This ordinance was amended via Ordinance #14-19, adopted December 22, 2014.

WHEREAS, the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act (“Highlands Act,” N.J.S.A. 13:20-1 et seq.) was enacted by the State Legislature on August 10, 2004 for the purpose of protecting, enhancing, and restoring the natural resources of the New Jersey Highlands Region, in particular the water resources, which provide drinking water to over 5 million New Jersey residents; and

WHEREAS, the Highlands Act created the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council (the “Highlands Council”) and charged it with crafting a comprehensive master plan for the New Jersey Highlands Region; and

WHEREAS, the Highlands Regional Master Plan was adopted by the Highlands Council through the adoption of Resolution 2008-27 on July 17, 2008, and became effective on September 8, 2008 as the product of a long-term, participatory, and region-wide planning effort; and

WHEREAS, Resolution 2008-27 included the adoption of Highlands Regional Master Plan as well as the adoption of various technical reports and guidelines that accompanied the Plan including the 2008 Plan Conformance Guidelines; and

WHEREAS, the Plan Conformance Guidelines provide an overview of the Highlands Act’s bifurcated system for municipal conformance with the Highlands Regional Master Plan - mandatory Plan Conformance for any portion (or if applicable, the whole) of a municipality located within the Preservation Area and voluntary Plan Conformance for any portion (or if applicable, the whole) of a municipality lying within the Planning Area; and

WHEREAS, Section 14 of the Highlands Act expressly requires that municipalities must revise and conform their local master plan and development regulations for that portion of their lands within the Preservation Area, as related to development and use of said lands, with the goals, requirements and provisions of the Regional Master Plan within 15 months of the effective date of adoption thereof, or December 8, 2009; and

WHEREAS, Section 15 of the Highlands Act provides for voluntary Plan Conformance where any municipality located wholly or partially in the Planning Area may at any time voluntarily revise and conform its local master plan and development regulations, as related to the development and use of land in the Planning Area, with the goals, requirements and provisions of the Regional Master Plan; and

WHEREAS, the Plan Conformance Guidelines detail the requirements for Plan Conformance including amendments to the Environmental Resource Inventory, Master Plan, and Land Use Ordinance, which together are intended to achieve conformance with the Regional Master Plan and provide immediate protections to vital Highlands Resources; and

WHEREAS, the Plan Conformance Guidelines require conforming municipalities to adopt Initial Revisions as a first step of Plan Conformance; the initial revisions are revisions of the existing master plan and development regulations which are deemed necessary by the Highlands Council for prompt enactment by a petitioning local government in order to ensure the protection and enhancement of the resources of the Highlands Region; and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon is located in the Highlands Region with lands lying within the Planning Area and Preservation Area, as defined by section 7 of the Highlands Act; and

WHEREAS, the Governing Body of the Township of Vernon has, on behalf of the municipality, petitioned the Highlands Council for Plan Conformance with respect to Township lands located within the Preservation Area portion of the Highlands Region; and

WHEREAS, the Petition filed with the Highlands Council contains proposed amendments to the municipal planning program, including amendments to the Environmental Resource Inventory, Master Plan, and Land Use Ordinance, which together are intended to achieve conformance with the Regional Master Plan and provide immediate protections to vital Highlands Resources located within the Township; and

WHEREAS, the Governing Body adopted Ordinance No. 13-10, the Highlands Preservation Area Checklist Ordinance as an immediate protection measure while other necessary Plan Conformance documents were being completed; and

WHEREAS, the Environmental Resource Inventory was adopted by the Township’s Environmental Commission on September 11, 2012 and the Highlands Land Use Element of the Master Plan was adopted by the Township’s Land Use Board on September 26, 2012, which was subsequently revised and re-adopted on May 8, 2013; and

WHEREAS, the Highlands Preservation Area Land Use Ordinance has been prepared by the Township Planner based on an approved Model Ordinance developed by the Highlands Council; and

WHEREAS, the Highlands Preservation Area Land Use Ordinance has been reviewed by the Township Land Use Board on December 11, 2013 and referred to the Township Council for consideration for adoption; and

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the Governing Body of the Township of Vernon that the Land Use Ordinance of the Township of Vernon be and is hereby amended to incorporate the following provisions:

Highlands Preservation Area Land Use Ordinance 
Exhibits (29,381 KB)