The Permit Process
Before the Permit Process Begins
Defining the Site - In this step, an applicant determines what parcels will make up a "Site". A site may be one or more contiguous parcels. Parcels separated by lots not owned or controlled by the applicant are not contiguous and are therefore not a site. In such cases where separate sites are part of a project, separate applications must be made to the Department. Want to find the State Plane coordinates for your site? Here's how!
Determine Environmental Constraints - IMPORTANT!!! Once the site has been defined, the environmental constraints must be determined. In order to do this, a number of options are available, some of which involve the Department and some of which do not. Please see the Division’s "Before you Buy, Before you Build" webpage for information on determining the environmental constraints regulated by this Division.
Project Decision - If a project type (building, park, etc.) has not yet been determined, a careful examination of the environmental constraints associated with the site can help to determine an appropriate design type which would minimize both environmental disturbance and regulatory hurdles.
Initial Project Design - Ideally, a project design which does not impact any regulated areas is preferable since no permits and/or waivers are required. In the event however that some impact is necessary, it is in the interest of both the State and the applicant to minimize that impact. A project design which takes into account the environmental constraints and treats them as environmental and economic resources to protect will be clear to the Department during the review of the application and taken into account during review.
Part 1: Pre-Application Conferences
The owner/developer of a site may request a Pre-Application Conference (Pre-App) with the Department. Conferences can be useful for a number of reasons; to clarify design conflicts, determine regulatory compliance, and determine if any unforeseen regulatory issues might be discovered. The Department may also provide recommendations for design changes which would help to minimize disturbance in environmentally sensitive areas and help the project achieve compliance with the regulations. These recommendations are not binding on the Department, nor do they represent any guarantee of a permit or waiver approval. Requests for a pre-app must be made in writing and must include the following:
- A project description;
- A plan view of the project;
- A tax lot and block
designation of the site;
- The location of the
project site, including the municipality and county;
- A copy of any LOI issued
for the site. If no LOI has been issued, the general location of freshwater
wetlands, transition areas, and State open waters;
- A copy of the appropriate
United States Soil Conservation Service map(s) (non-DEP link "USDA Web Soil Survey") locating the project;
A United States Geological
Survey quadrangle map showing the site.
- The Department encourages prospective applicants to obtain any relevant applicability and/or an LOI prior to requesting a Pre-App.
Part 2: Determining the Appropriate Application(s)
As mentioned in the "Before you Buy, Before you Build" section of this website, determining your environmental constraints on your site is critical to determining what permits may be required for your proposed activities. Please check this section for information on determining what special areas you may have on your site.
If you know what your environmental constraints are on a site, and your project design unavoidably encroaches on these areas, then each encroachment may require one or more approvals from the Division before your project can proceed. The Pre-Application conference discussed above can help to provide information on what permit approvals may be necessary for your project, and is a good first step. We have also provided a list of some of the more common project activities which provide some guidance on what permits you may need to obtain for that particular activity. This list does not cover all activities which require an approval, and may not cover all Division permits required for an activity, but it provides guidance on some of the more common activities. Further, this list does not provide information on other Department permits not covered by the Division of Land Use Regulation which may be necessary for your activity. If your project requires permits for more than one Program within the Department please contact the Office of Permit Coordination and Environmental Review.
Part 3: Application Preparation
Once you know what permits are necessary, you need to download the application form and the appropriate checklist(s). It is VERY important that you follow all of the instructions on the checklist(s) to insure that all the required information and fees are included in the application and that review of your application will not be delayed or returned to you as deficient.
Part 4: Application Submittal
Applications can be submitted to the Department via hand delivery, courier, certified or regular mail. Once the application is received by our mail room it is stamped as received and sent to Administrative Review section to check for administrative completeness.
Part 5: Administrative Review
Once an application has entered the initial Administrative Review process the Division performs a two step review. The Administrative Support Unit reviews administrative checklist items i.e. fees, previous actions on the site, notices and other administrative items on the checklist. The application is then sent to technical staff to review aspects of the application for more detailed technical checklist requirements. This is done for all applications within the 20 day review procedure required by the different Land Use Regulation rules.
If it is deficient, it will be returned to you as incomplete. Typical mistakes made to applications that you need to avoid are:
Failure to include all required maps at the required scale
Failure to include all of the required public notices
Site plans (if required) are not clearly signed and sealed.
Part 6: Technical Review
Once an application has been determined to be complete for review; depending on the application, the Project Manager and/or Project Engineer, Threatened and Endangered Species Unit and Mitigation Unit will review the application to determine compliance with the appropriate rules. Additional review may be required by outside agencies such as the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Part 7: Public Comment
When an application is accepted as complete by our Administrative Review section, it is queued to go into the DEP Bulletin, a bi-monthly publication from the Department which lists important permit actions. Once your application has been published in the Bulletin, the public typically has 30 days to comment on that application. Please note that the Division, in most cases, may not issue a decision on an application until the public comment period has passed.
In addition to the 30 day application public comment period, there are rare cases where a public hearing may be called for an application. In cases such as these, notices of public hearings are announced in the DEP Bulletin; also the Applicant is required to publish the announcement of the public hearing along with the date, time and place of the public hearing in a display advertisement in the appropriate newspaper.
Part 8: Permit Decision
When the Department issues or denies a permit, waiver or any type of verification, the Department sends a notification letter to the applicant, as well as sending copies to the applicant's agent (if there is one) and to the municipal clerks office. The Department also publish's in the DEP Bulletin, notices of its decisions. In addition, copies of the decision can be obtained though the DEP version of the Open Public Records Act website.
Part 9: Post Permit Issuance Requirements
Read though and check your permit carefully. Their may be requirements listed that must be fulfilled prior to and/or concurrant with your construction. There may also be requirements, such as the filing of a deed restriction, which may be necessary to make the permit valid.
Part 10: Modifications
All permits, waivers and/or verifications may be modified or revised after issuance. There are different types of modifications but the most common are minor and major. (Under Flood Hazard Area rules, these are called "Revisions"). Please review the applicable rule for the procedures and requirements for any approval to be modified.
Part 11: Extensions
All decisions issued by the Division are valid for five years. In some cases approvals may be extend for an additional five years. Please see the applicable rule for the procedures and requirements for the approval to be extended.
Part 12: Appeals
All decisions by the Division have a procedure for appeals by the applicant and affected third parties. There are two tracks an appeal may take. The first is requesting a hearing by the Office of Legal Affairs. Denials of permits or waivers may also ask for a review by the Office of Dispute Resolution (ADR) to assist in settlement without a formal review by an Administrative Law Judge. At any time during this process an applicant may apply for new permit or waiver for a revised project that complies with the portion of the permit or waiver that was the basis for the denial. Please see the applicable rule for the procedures and requirements for all appeals.
If a permit has been issued by the Division to a property other than your own and you feel that you are negatively impacted by that permit decision, you must submit a written request for an adjudicatory hearing to the Office of Legal Affairs. You must do this within 30 days after the permit decision has been published in the DEP Bulletin. The written request must include a copy of the Administrative Hearing Request Checklist and Tracking Form and all materials listed in Subchapter 5.1 “Hearing Request” of the Coastal Permit Program Rules [link directly to rule].
If your application is denied, you may also appeal this decision by submitting a written request for an adjudicatory hearing to the Office of Legal Affairs. You must do this within 30 days after the permit decision has been published in the DEP Bulletin. The written request must include a copy of the Administrative Hearing Request Checklist and Tracking Form and all materials listed in Subchapter 5.1 “Hearing Request” of the Coastal Permit Program Rules.