TRENTON – An appellate court has ruled in favor of Lopatcong and against Greenwich in a matter of land use, prior approval and the Highlands Act.
In the decision released Wednesday involving two Warren County towns, Greenwich lost its argument that Lopatcong should have obtained prior approval of the Highlands
Greenwich unsuccessfully argued that adjacent municipality Lopatcong was subject to this “prior approval” rule when it decided to OK the location of an asphalt and concrete manufacturing facility.
The Highlands Council had disagreed with Greenwich, ruling that the area in question was not yet subject to the Highlands Regional Master Plan when Lopatcong adopted its land use ordinance.
The Highlands Act of 2004 has been a longtime source of controversy among environmentalists, developers, and politicians over land use restrictions in an area of the state that is home to the source of clean drinking
This approach to a regional land use planning system in seven counties of northern New Jersey allowed the Highlands Council to develop a regional master plan.
Some towns are in a designated preservation area, where conformance is mandatory, and partially in a planning area, where conformance is voluntary.
The regional master plan provides that once a municipality has received Plan Conformance approval, “it has an obligation to maintain the plans, ordinances and regulations that brought it into conformance.”
The issue in this case dates to February 2012 in which Greenwich argued, among other things, that Lopatcong violated Council’s regulations regarding the regional master plan, but the court turned back Greenwich’s arguments.