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  • What is the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act?

    The Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act is a law signed in August 2004 that will preserve open space and protect the state's greatest diversity of natural resources including the precious water resources that supply drinking water to more than half of New Jersey's families. The Highlands Act documents the geographical boundary of the Highlands Region and establishes the Highlands Preservation Area and the Highlands Planning Area. It required the department to establish regulations in the Highlands Preservation Area to create a Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council and to develop a regional master plan for the entire Highlands Region.

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  • Why is protecting the Highlands Region important?

    The Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act is a law signed in August 2004 that will preserve open space and protect the state's greatest diversity of natural resources including the precious water resources that supply drinking water to more than half of New Jersey's families. The Highlands Act documents the geographical boundary of the Highlands Region and establishes the Highlands Preservation Area and the Highlands Planning Area. It required the department to establish regulations in the Highlands Preservation Area to create a Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council and to develop a regional master plan for the entire Highlands Region.

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  • How did this legislation come about?

    On September 19, 2003, the Highlands Task Force was created through Executive Order. The Governor charged the Task Force to provide him recommendations within six months on how best to advance conservation efforts, smart growth, regional planning, and water resource protections in the region. The task force called for the identification of a Preservation Area in the Highlands to protect a core area of the most sensitive land, which the Legislature should then officially designate by statute.

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  • Does the Smart Growth law (S1368) affect the Highlands Preservation Area?

    No, the Highlands Preservation Area is specifically exempted from the requirements of this law.

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  • What activities are regulated in the Highlands Preservation Area?

    All "major Highlands development," as defined by the Highlands Act, in the Preservation Area is regulated and will require DEP approval, unless otherwise exempted by the Act.

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  • Will the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act have an impact on my property?

    To determine if the law affects your property, you can enter the property location into DEP's interactive mapping system (i-MapNJ) to determine if the property is in the Highlands Preservation Area or Planning Area.

    If your property is located within the Highlands Planning Area, then the DEP Highlands rules do not apply to your project.

    If your property is located within the Highlands Preservation Area and your proposed project does not meet the definition of major Highlands development, then your project is not subject to the DEP Highlands Rules.

    If your property is located within the Highlands Preservation Area and your proposed project meets the definition of major Highlands development, then your project may be regulated. Some activities and projects, however, may be exempt.

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