Skip Navigation

DEP Powers

  1. The Highlands bill phases in more stringent DEP permitting regulations--in the preservation area only--that would be harmonized with the Highlands Regional Plan and local master plans. [§32-36]

    1. The tightened regulations would apply to "major Highlands developments," [§3] which are defined as nonresidential projects, or residential projects that:

      1. Already require environmental land use or water permits OR

      2. Disturb at least one acre of land OR

      3. Increase impervious surface by one quarter-acre or more

        For more information, see: My Property is in the Preservation Zone. How Do I Know if the Plans I Have for My Land Are Legal Under the New Highlands Act? (37k PDF)

    2. Both the initial and permanent phases of DEP regulations will prohibit major Highlands developments within 300 feet of Highlands open waters, and provide a buffer of 300 feet adjacent to all open waters.

    3. Major Highlands developments with impervious surface greater than 3% of a lot's land area will be prohibited, as will development on steep slopes and upland forests.

    4. The DEP will enforce non-degradation provisions, zero net fill requirements, and will regulate water diversions.

    5. The permanent phase of DEP regulations will include a septic system density standard in the preservation area to protect water quality. Because the council's regional master plan and policies must "be based on, comply with, and implement" these standards [§12], there can be no conflict between Council and DEP recommendations on dwelling unit density in the preservation area.

    6. Public water and sewer projects in the preservation area will be suspended, with some exceptions and grandfathering.