Legislative Initiatives to Reduce Stormwater Runoff, Part 2

Legislative Initiatives to Reduce Stormwater Runoff, Part 2

March 16, 2011 13:48

Yesterday we discussed the proposed legislative response in New Jersey to the problems of flooding and stormwater management.  Some have speculated that increasing frequency and severity of flooding and stormwater is a by-product of climate change, and certainly these events are consistent with climate change.  Other studies have pointed to the decreasing amount of pervious cover in urban areas as increasing stormwater runoff.  Regardless of the causes, the problem is quite real.  Although the legislation is pending in New Jersey the problems are not unique to this State nor to the United States.  This post will examine another of the five companion bills.  This proposed law would have the greatest impact upon the design and development of private projects. 

A3680: Requires any projects subject to municipal land use approvals to incorporate green or blue roofs.
In New Jersey this bill would have the most wide-reaching implications for private development.  The bill would require that all new construction projects for which approvals are required under New Jersey’s Municipal Land Use Law, which would include most new construction projects in the State, particularly in developed urban areas, incorporate Green or Blue roofs, unless the applicant can demonstrate that it would not be feasible to build with such a roof. 

The bill further requires the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) to develop, within one year, rules and regulations concerning incorporation of Green or Blue roofs to limit the release of stormwater runoff.  One interesting, but un-answered question, revolves around the statutory mandate that requires such roofs unless an applicant demonstrates to the DEP that such roofs are not feasible for a particular project.  This may be the result of the legislative sponsors failing to recognize that most municipal land use applications are approved at the local level, and not by DEP even though some projects require DEP approvals in order to receive municipal approvals.  Perhaps the statute should be revised to require an applicant to demonstrate to the body that is reviewing a land use application why it would not be feasible to build such a roof in accordance with the criteria established by DEP.

The bill provides an incentive for those projects that require some form of DEP approval because it requires the DEP give priority consideration to any permit or authorization that it must issue for a project that incorporates Green or Blue roofs.  This bill seeks to achieve compliance with the desired goal by using both the “carrot” and the “stick”. 

The motivation for this series of companion bills is certainly meritorious.  One of the sponsors of the bills, assemblyman John McKeon, set forth the rationale: “We know that there’s a problem with water discharge and an overburdened sewer system.  So green roofs and blue roofs are a way to systemically discharge water so that it goes out in a regimented manner and doesn’t end in the overflow that ends in all the problems that we have with pollution”.

Tomorrow, more about positive financial incentives for Green or Blue roofs.

Climate Change | Flood Insurance | Legislation

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