On Dec. 2, 2020, The Watershed Institute and The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC), hosted the RSIS vs. Stormwater webinar. About 185 municipal officials, Environmental Commission members, and the public gained a better understanding of how stormwater management and municipal ordinances interplay with the Residential Site Improvement Standards (RSIS).
Michael Pisauro, Policy Director at The Watershed Institute and moderator for the webinar, highlighted why local policy is important in addressing the many water-related issues communities face in New Jersey. Polluted stormwater runoff, which is being worsened by more intense storms and increases in pavement, sidewalks and other impervious cover, is the main source of water pollution in New Jersey. Already, the majority of our waterways do not meet the standards of The Clean Water Act. In response, NJ DEP adopted amendments to the state’s stormwater management rules last March, mandating that green infrastructure be used. As a result, each municipality in New Jersey was given one year from March 2, 2020 to update their stormwater management ordinance. Green infrastructure practices will help New Jersey to address water pollution and flooding across the state.
Michael G. Sinkevich, from Liberman Blecher & Sinkevich, P.C., provided an overview of a current case involving a challenge to Haddonfield’s stormwater management ordinance which includes a requirement for stormwater management for one or two-family residential development. The lawsuit charges that the town did not have the authority to require stormwater management for this kind of development because of the Residential Site Improvement Standards (RSIS). Sinkevich argued that under Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) towns have the right to protect the health and welfare of their citizens and can act to protect water quality and reduce flooding.
Lisa M. Maddox, an associate with Mason, Griffin & Pierson, P.C., presented strategies for drafting ordinances designed to protect against challenges based on the RSIS. Her recommendations included placing requirements for stormwater management for minor and residential development in the town’s zoning statutes under or under the municipality’s General Police Powers.
The Green Infrastructure Rule requires that municipalities have their stormwater management ordinances revised and in effect by March 2, 2021. The Watershed Institute has developed a model stormwater ordinance to help municipalities comply with the new requirements under NJ DEP’s new rules.