An Inside Look at New Jersey’s Key Environmental Issues

As published in the November 2017 issue of COMMERCE Magazine
By Martin C. Daks

NEW JERSEY—WITH ITS SUPERfund sites, brownfield properties and legacy of old, contaminated industrial structures—offers a rich environment for firms that can address these key issues, such as environmental attorneys, engineers, labs, consultants and LSRPs. COMMERCE asked these experts to discuss the legislative and regulatory climate, plus offer insights about how New Jersey firms can prepare for 2018.

Rutter & Roy, LLP
Christine Roy, Esq., Partner

Christine Roy, Esq., a partner in the law firm of Rutter & Roy, LLP, represents major interstate natural gas pipeline companies, advising them on various aspects of construction projects, including Green Acres diversions and streamlining the regulatory process to prevent delays.

“Most people don’t realize that a great number of Green Acres tracts have utilities or pipelines on them,” explains Roy. “Many of these were built during the 1950s, when the properties were not preserved. This is yet another example of why it can be extremely difficult to identify Green Acres restricted land.”

The Green Acres Program was created 55 years ago to protect open space and natural resources. As part of the NJDEP, the program has preserved more than 680,000 acres since it was founded.

“Green-Acres restricted properties are not always easy to identify because many times they are not listed in the public records,” explains Roy.

The Recreation and Open Space Inventory (ROSI) is the master list of Green Acres-encumbered properties in each municipality for both funded and unfunded parkland.

“There are any number of reasons why the municipality may not have reported it or it is property owned by a nonprofit organization that is not required to submit a ROSI,” says Roy. “We’ve found that determining a property’s designation requires in-depth research and knowing what to look for.”

Rutter & Roy uses an internal checklist that includes the ROSI, title search and information from the municipality, as well as Green Acres files and records in Trenton.

“From the outset, we presume that if it’s municipally owned land, it’s Green-Acres restricted land. While there is a great deal of municipally owned property that is not designated as Green Acres, we always begin with the presumption that the property is Green Acres-restricted.”

The law firm has been doing these searches for more than 30 years.

“Ultimately, the designation is determined by having a conversation with the local unit (i.e. county, township, etc.),” explains Roy. “But we’ve seen gray areas where information was not readily available, and the towns involved could not accurately determine a property’s designation. If we cannot reach an agreement with the local unit, we turn to the Green Acres staff to make the final determination in conjunction with the local unit.”

Source: Commerce Magazine