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8 N.J.A.R. 441

Riggins, Frank and Earleen v. Pinelands Commission, New Jersey
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Citation: 8 N.J.A.R. 441
Decision Date: 1985
Synopsis: Petitioners sought the approval of the Pinelands Commission for the construction of a single family home with a conventional septic system on a four-tenths of an acre lot within the Pinelands protection area. The administrative law judge assigned to the case found that peti- tioners had been issued a building permit from the Township in July 1983. One month later petitioners became aware, for the first time, that approval from the Pinelands Commission was necessary before construction could begin and they subsequently applied for such ap- proval. After completion of their house, petitioners were denied ap- proval by the Pinelands Commission based on a number of concerns, including septic effluent. The Commission required the installation of a waterless toilet before approval could be given. The judge rejected petitioners' argument that since their neigh- borhood is already built up with homes using conventional septic systems, their contribution to ground water pollution would be mini- mal and thus the expense of a new system would not be warranted. The judge noted that N.J.A.C. 7:50-4.55 which governs the grant of waivers of strict compliance, required that petitioners must demon- strate that they will suffer an extraordinary hardship, that the grant of the waiver will not result in substantial impairment of the resources of the Pinelands, and that the waiver provides only the 'minimum relief' necessary to alleviate the hardship. While acknowledging that petitioners would suffer an extraordinary hardship, the judge con- cluded that the Commission must seek to minimize the adverse effects of growth and that the special septic system was a legitimate precondi- tion for the grant of a waiver. Moreover, the judge rejected petitioners' argument that the Com- mission was estopped from requiring a special system since it was petitioners who bore the burden of obtaining all prior construction approvals. Upon review, this initial decision was accepted by the Pinelands Commission. Frank A. Buczynski, Jr., Esq., for petitioners (Shackleton, Hazeltine & Buczynski, attorneys) Debbie J. Thompson, Deputy Attorney General, for respondent (Irwin I. Kimmelman, Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney) Richard H. Daniels, Esq., for intervenor, Maurice River Township Initial Decision
Rule(s) Cited: 7:50-4.55