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

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Letter of Interpretation

If you wish to have clear knowledge of whether there are freshwater wetlands, freshwater wetlands transition areas and/or State open waters on a site, you will have to apply for a Letter of Interpretation (LOI). Wetlands mapping available on GEOWEB and from other sources is an approximation usually based on arial photography interpretation. The true extent of wetlands on a site may be less, or than is depicted on these maps and if present may be of a very different configuration. The State does not rely on these maps for regulatory determinations and instead requires a LOI should someone wish to determine presence, absence and/or extent of wetlands on a parcel(s). Details on delineating freshwater wetlands in NJ can be found on our Delineating Freshwater Wetlands webpage.

As mentioned in the overview, there are five types of LOI's obtainable from the Department;


Presence/Absence

A "Presence/Absence" LOI identifies whether any freshwater wetlands, State open waters or transition areas exist on a site, or on a portion of a site (See "Footprint of Disturbance" below) one acre or less. A presence/absence LOI also provides the resource value classification for any wetlands on the site.

A presence/absence LOI does not identify the boundaries or location of any freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters found within a site or portion thereof. To obtain an LOI indicating the location or the boundaries of freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters, an applicant must apply for a Line Delineation LOI (See the Delineation tab) for sites of up to an acre, or a line verification LOI (See the Verification tab) for sites over an acre.

The Department can issue a presence/absence LOI for any site, regardless of its size. Please see N.J.A.C. 7:7A-4.3, Presence/absence LOI, for the relevant section of the rules Application requirements for a LOI can be found in the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab of the "Forms, Checklists and Other Documents" webpage and at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-16.3.


Presence/Absence - Footprint of Disturbance

A "Footprint of Disturbance" (FOD) LOI identifies whether any freshwater wetlands or State open waters exist within a defined "footprint" on a subject site or whether a transition area from an adjacent wetland is within the footprint, with the following restrictions:

  • The footprint area must be no larger than one acre.
  • The Department will issue a FOD for more than one portion of a site, provided that:
    • Each portion is no larger than one acre;
    • The applicant submits a separate fee for each portion; and
    • No more than three presence/absence LOIs shall be issued for a single site under this subsection.

Please see N.J.A.C. 7:7A-4.3, Presence/absence LOI, and specifically N.J.A.C. 7:7A-4.3(c) and (d), for the relevant rule provisions. Application requirements for a LOI can be found in the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab of the "Forms, Checklists and Other Documents" webpage and at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-16.3.


Wetland Delineations

A "Line Delineation" LOI identifies the boundaries of any freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters on a site or a municipal tax lot that is one acre or smaller, and identifies the resource value classification of any freshwater wetlands on the site. For a line delineation LOI, the applicant need not submit a delineation. Rather, the Department will inspect the site and delineate the boundary lines of any freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters. You cannot get a Line Delineation LOI for a portion of a site, unless the portion is an entire municipal tax lot. Please see N.J.A.C. 7:7A-4.4,Line delineation LOI for the relevant section of the rules. Application requirements for a LOI can be found in the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab of the "Forms, Checklists and Other Documents" webpage and at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-16.3.


Line Verification

A "Line Verification" LOI identifies the boundaries of any freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters on a site, regardless of its size, or a municipal tax lot no larger then the site, and the resource value classification of any freshwater wetlands. For a line verification LOI, the applicant must submit a proposed delineation of wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters, which the Department will confirm or modify.

Important Guidance: When you consider Department regulated features such as wetlands on a property, it is important to think of it as an area and not a boundary. All types of Letters of Interpretation (LOI) except a Presence or Absence determination, refer to wetlands and/or wetland lines, but when a line is noted, it really refers to the edge of an area of wetlands. On a survey, this area would be depicted as a polygon (a multisided shape) the edges of which would either be a property boundary, or a wetlands line delineated and verified by the Department. A wetland may not stop at the property boundary, but the polygon is the limit of the determination for that particular site. If you are submitting a LOI Line Verification to the Department, you must take into consideration that the wetlands are an area, not a line, and prepare your site plans accordingly.

Wetland lines that do not meet the property boundary at some point will be unacceptable and will require revision. A simple self test is if you can "connect the dots" with the wetlands line/field points and the property boundary to form a polygon. If the answer is yes, it is likely that the line will not be rejected for being "too short". Remember that every wetlands line that does not connect to itself to form a polygon within the site, must connect to a property boundary.

Please see N.J.A.C. 7:7A-4.5,Line verification LOI for the relevant section of the rules. Application requirements for a LOI can be found in the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab of the "Forms, Checklists and Other Documents" webpage and at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-16.3.


Line Verification - Partial

The Department can issue a line verification LOI for a portion of a site, if all of the following criteria are met:

  • The site is publicly owned;
  • The site is larger than 10 acres;
  • The portion that is to be verified is no larger than 10 percent of the overall site; and
  • The portion is clearly marked on the plan and on the ground.

This type of LOI is rare. It is most often used by a public entity to determine the Departments jurisdiction with regards to Freshwater Wetlands, on a portion of a much larger site for which some project plans are being prepared. Please see N.J.A.C. 7:7A-4.5,Line verification LOI, and specifically N.J.A.C. 7:7A-4.5(b)3 for the relevant rule provisions.

Application requirements for a LOI can be found in the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab of the "Forms, Checklists and Other Documents" webpage and at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-16.3.

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