Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act Attorneys Rutter & Roy

Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act New Jersey


New Jersey’s Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act is an expansive regulatory framework specifically developed to protect the state’s essential natural resources. The Act applies to a region of more than 800,000 acres covering over 1,250 square miles and 88 municipalities in seven counties (Bergen, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex and Warren) in Northern New Jersey. Among other things, the Highlands Region is an essential source of drinking water for half of the residents of the state.

The Act is also a major factor in any kind of significant development in the region. Rutter & Roy is one of the few firms in the state with significant experience counseling clients whose projects implicate the Act and thus require working with the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council, the body that administers the Act along with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Highlands Water Preservation and Protection Act Lawyers in Freehold, New Jersey

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Experienced Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act Lawyers


Highlands Water Preservation and Protections Act Law Firm in New JerseyAs with any complex regulatory framework, effective management of the Act, the Council, and the NJDEP requires a delicate, expert and strategic balance of knowledge, negotiation and relationships, coupled with the ability to assemble compelling proposals for specific issues. The Act, to begin with, incorporates numerous exemptions. Whenever possible, our objective is to develop a strong case for the applicability of an exemption to a particular project. Depending upon the exemption, the request will be considered by either the Council or the NJDEP. Obtaining an exemption allows clients to avoid the Act’s more onerous review process, and proceed more expeditiously.

If a proposed project is in the Highlands protected area and does not fall within an exemption, then the client must submit its proposal to the NJDEP for review. Any such proposal would require mitigation or compensation for a project’s projected effect on resources covered by the Act – say, replacement of forest resources.

In this scenario, our objective is to identify beforehand the potential scope of mitigation based upon our experience and, where we can, minimize the scope, and therefore the cost, of mitigation. A good-faith mitigation proposal reviewed by a knowledgeable attorney is the quickest, most cost-effective tactic for managing the impact and cost of the Act.

Skilled & Effective Highlands Act Attorneys & Legal Services


On a more strategic level, our role in counseling clients facing Highlands Act challenges is to work with them at every step of the process to ensure it is as efficient as possible and to shape their responses towards minimizing costs, friction and potential obstacles. To do this, we begin with an overview of the project as a whole. We review applications and other documents that will be submitted to ensure that they’re as compelling and detailed as possible. And we guide and advise clients on the various steps in the process, always with an eye towards arriving at a quick, satisfactory resolution.

Contact Highlands Act Attorneys in New Jersey


Thanks to a combination of demographics, politics, personality and geography, New Jersey is governed by an interlocking matrix of exceptionally complex land use statutes and regulations. Any significant construction or development project must contend with this reality. Success often hinges on a firm’s ability to assist clients in cooperating with regulators in a manner that both addresses their concerns while preserving the project schedule.

Rutter & Roy is one of the few firms in New Jersey with experience at walking this fine line in the Highlands. We have walked it successfully before for clients and helped guide them through the trees of regulation while never losing sight of the forest.

Contact us today if we may be of service.