In its New Jersey Zoning Watch blog, law firm Saul Ewing reports that the Appellate Division has upheld a civil administrative penalty of $604,110 against a developer for not securing a NJDEP permit for sewer hookup prior to the construction of a major residential development, notwithstanding the fact that there was no discharge of pollutants.
The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the violation was “minor” and exempted under the Grace Period Law, concluding that the defendant’s failure to obtain pre-approval deprived the NJDEP of its authority to decide whether the project may adversely affect sewer infrastructure and statewide water quality.
Blog editor Philip J. Morin, III writes that the decision:
"...is another cautionary reminder of how all-encompassing NJDEP’s role is in land use and development and how deferential to this agency the courts have been and will continue to be in the enforcement of substantial civil penalties, particularly when it comes to the more subjective criteria under the Grace Period Law."
Update: Here's NJDEP's news release on the decision