Alright, enough is enough. Has anyone tried to decipher buffers lately? Seems simple enough at first right? There are wetland buffers and there are stream buffers. One is X the other is Y right? WRONG, you have to first determine if these buffers are in the Township ordinances or the County Stormwater Model Ordinances or if they are a Department of Environmental Protection Buffers or perhaps even County Conservation District Requirements. ( would be great if they were all the same but that is for another day) So, what is the big deal you say? All you have to do is just look in the ordinances and get the buffer dimensions right? WRONG again! You also need to check the watershed classification. Ah, ok, there is an app for that I think. So, you have these buffers and you have reviewed the ordinances and you think you have determined which buffers have jurisdiction over your project (pssst – they ALL do) and you have determined your watershed classification and NOW you know your buffers right? WRONG yet again because in the time you spent looking all this up one of your colleagues has walked in with the latest project and informed you that there is a “new” buffer “interpretation” now being taken. WHAT?!?!?! Come on! So for those of you who THOUGHT you knew buffers, just keep reading. Last week, wetland buffers were (and this is how I understand it and could be wrong) 0 feet by law, 35 feet if you want a permit and 50 feet if you really want a permit. Stream buffers were 50 feet for most watersheds and 150 feet for High Quality and Exceptional Value classified watersheds. No problem, we have designed our projects accordingly. But now we are learning that things may be different yet again and this is going to have a major effect on previously approved projects that have NPDES permits that have either expired or are up for renewal so listen carefully. WETLAND buffers are now 100 feet for High Quality and Exceptional Value Watersheds ONLY IF you are disturbing earth within 150 feet of a stream. If you are not disturbing earth within 150 feet of a stream within a High Quality and Exceptional Value Watershed, then the buffer can be zero (0) feet or whatever the Municipality’s ordinance says it is. Confusing, right? This will have an enormous effect on nearly EVERY project previously approved that contained wetlands. Oh, almost forgot, I THINK stream buffers have remained the same, I think. Confused yet? If so, call D.L. Howell and we would be happy to confuse you more!
AREA SHOWING EXISTING WETLAND AREA
AREA SHOWING 100FT BUFFER