Why is it Critically Important to Contact the NJ Department of Environmental Protection during Transition

May 29th, 2019 | Community Association Law Blog

May 29, 2019. By Eric F. Frizzell, Esq.

Many community associations in New Jersey have been constructed on sites containing materials that are hazardous to human health. In fact, at the end of 2018, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection reported that there are 13,707 known contaminated sites in New Jersey.

This is one of many reasons why it is imperative during the Transition from developer control for a community association to obtain confirmation from the DEP that there are no open environmental obligations impacting its property – or, conversely, to obtain all of the details regarding any outstanding issues so that the association can expeditiously act to assure that the developer resolves them. This is a critical Transition action item for an association because the developer’s failure to remedy any outstanding environmental obligations could result in the DEP seeking to hold the association responsible for doing so, even years later, which could be very expensive.

To start the process of obtaining confirmation from the DEP, the association’s attorney should submit an electronic request to the DEP pursuant to the Open Public Records Act, seeking records of any open environmental obligations and any remedial actions taken with respect to the association’s property.

This request will cover not only hazardous waste sites, but also other obligations such as permits that have not been closed out. The DEP will provide you with a written reply, and may inform you that there are hundreds or thousands of relevant documents on file that you may need to review.

Our law firm has gone through this process many times and would be glad to assist you and your association in dealing with the DEP. Please feel free to contact us for additional information.