JACKSON – Township Officials recently introduced an ordinance which would require developers prove their fill is clean.
“No longer will we just trust developers who want to bring in hundreds of truckloads of what we refer to as ‘dirty dirt.’ Should this ordinance pass on our next meeting Jackson will be one of the few in the state that puts the environment front and center,” Council Vice President Alex Sauickie said.
Sauickie noted that the township is surrounded by the Pine Barrens and is abundant in recreation and park facilities.
“The soil fill importation ordinance is something the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection urges be adopted on the municipal level and requires large developments apply to the town and disclose in advance when they are soliciting in large amounts dirt or fill that they are bringing into the township,” he said.
He added that with the township’s purchase of open space last year, this ordinance will help to keep Jackson a beautiful rural town for all our residents.”
The ordinance reads that as the current Municipal Code does not provide for the regulation and permitting of soils and or fill being imported to the township that the unregulated and uncontrolled placement and movement of soil, fill and other mineral deposits can result in conditions detrimental to the public safety, health and general welfare.
The ordinance states no person shall fill or cause the placement of any soil and/or fill on any premises in Jackson whether such soil and/or fill be for sale, gift or otherwise, unless a permit therefore is first secured from the Township Zoning Officer or Township Engineer, or the Township Zoning Board of Adjustment.
The ordinance does not regulate the movement and placement of soil fill directly related to agricultural uses on farm properties in Jackson.
Resident Craig Hubbard asked the governing body several questions about the ordinance during the meeting. He asked how the source material would be verified and if the certification of the supplier would be accepted and what happens if the soil fill on a given project is changed during said project.
Sauickie responded, “The whole point of the ordinance is to apply in advance through our forms that need to be filled out in advance. This is a first for us. There are three categories, one being a typical landscaping business which would be exempt by this. It is not being designed to be hard on a small business owner.”
“For those 500 cubic yards and up which is what we call a minor fill application there is a fee for it as well as an escrow. For anything over a thousand cubic yards the escrow would rise exponentially up to $25,000,” Sauickie said adding that the escrow cost would cover the expense of the township’s inspection of the site.
“If the source of the fill changes during a project there would have to be an amendment to the application which would be included in the inspections of the original application,” Sauickie added.
He answered a question by resident Eleanor Hannum regarding whose responsibility it was to inspect the site, saying the responsibility fell to the town and seeing that the paperwork is filled out falls under the departments of the business administrator.
Jackson’s Zoning Officer will have the authority to deny a permit if it is determined that the placement of fill is deemed detrimental to the safety of the general public.
Supporting documentation required by the ordinance includes the hours of operation, haul routes for transporting material and interim traffic and safety measures.
The ordinance states that the Minor Soil/Fill Permit (100 to 500 cubic yards) has a fee $1,000, escrow being $2,000. And Major Soil/Fill Permit (greater than 500 cubic yards) would have a fee of $2,000 for every 1,000 cubic yards up to a maximum fee of $10,000. The escrow is $2,500 for the first 1,000 cubic yards; $1000 for every additional 1,000 cubic yards up to a maximum escrow of $25,000.
The proposed ordinance will have a public hearing during its second reading at an April 28, online council meeting which will start at 6 p.m.