The mission of DEP’s Office of Permit and Project Navigation (OPPN) is to coordinate all Federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and State Executive Order # 215 (EO 215) reviews for the Department by the Environmental Review Unit, and to coordinate and facilitate the permitting of large complex projects across multiple Department programs by the Permit Coordination Unit.
Permit Coordination Unit
The mission of the Permit Coordination Unit is to insure that complex multi-media, high value projects receive proactive and facilitated communication and coordination in support of timely, predictable, and positive permit decisions.
We accomplish this by:
- Being the primary manager/driver for several large cross- program projects at any given time.
- Providing a “one stop”/single point of entry for a second tier of smaller cross- program projects where we will coordinate and facilitate multi program permits but not be primary manager of those projects. Applicants will leave our Permit Readiness Process with confidence that:
- there is no fatal flaw (early ‘no’ if needed) in their site or project,
- certainty they are in fact ready to submit permit applications (that no preliminary approvals like LOIs or consistency with WQMPs) are needed or if so that they have been obtained),
- their project has had the benefit of an informal review and comment on their project by permit reviewers prior to submitting a formal application,
- they have been introduced to individual program contacts,
- they have an approximate predictable schedule for permit issuance assuming the submission of a complete and approvable application and fees.
- Providing an early, informal review and comment on ‘ideas’ or conceptual projects before applicants invest time and money into more detailed project design i.e. – a general GIS overview of site limitations or encumbrances to determine if it is worth further investing in a project.
- Identifying and resolving initial/overarching policy or rule interpretation or process questions by the Department needed to determine the viability of a project prior to entering the permit application process.
We generally accomplish this initially for 1 and 2 above through the use of the Permit Readiness Checklist (PRC) form, the submission of which to David.Pepe@dep.nj.gov and Katherine.Nolan@dep.nj.gov usually starts those processes. This document serves as an early planning, fatal flaw screen of major approvals and site conditions like land use, site remediation, water, sewer and local approvals. This document generally provides the Department with the minimum necessary information to informally identify what permits may be needed for the project. After receipt of the completed PRC, the Department generally invites the applicant in to present an overview of the project, discuss the conclusions of the individual DEP programs who have reviewed the PRC, allow the programs to offer informal suggestions on how to minimize or qualify for permits, and to project an anticipated schedule for permit review assuming a good application.
The Readiness Checklist form is available on our website.
OPPN does not coordinate brownfield remediations, only brownfield remediation associated with redevelopment.
Environmental Review Unit
The mission of the Environmental Review Unit is to insure that the Department is proactively involved in the early review and comment of projects requiring Federal environmental planning reviews pursuant to the NEPA, EO 215, or other required environmental planning to influence those projects in their planning stages to reduce or eliminate environmental impacts. If a project receives more than 1 million dollars in State funding, or requires a Federal permit or is considered a major Federal action, an environmental assessment will likely be required pursuant to EO 215 or NEPA.
We accomplish this by:
- Coordinating and facilitating the Department’s review and response to projects requiring a NEPA or EO 215 review. This is a critical early opportunity for DEP programs to participate in pre-application review and scoping meetings to affect the range and scope of project alternatives (including no build) and comment on the Final EA or EIS documents.
- Coordinating other environmental reviews for EDA, EPA grant applications, Treasury State Real Property Reviews.
Environmental Justice Review Unit
Under OPPN, projects that require Environmental Justice Review are enacted under The Environmental Justice Law . OPPN assists all facilities to accomplish conditions outlined under Administrative Order 25 and/or the Environmental Justice Regulations . OPPN can assist facilities to prepare for their public notice, public hearing, Environmental Justice Impact Statement (EJIS) and technical guidance and project goals. OPPN reviews all public hearing information prior to approval and guidance on complying with the EJ Law and gaining meaningful public engagement. Once the public hearing is concluded, OPPN reviews all comments addressed by the facility from their recommended comment period. Evaluations on all materials is conducted first by OPPN and followed by program specific area(s) to assure all public comments and concerns are properly addressed. Finally, OPPN may evaluate, recommend or require ‘special conditions’ to any authorization to assure a minimization or avoidance of added stressors upon any overburdened community. Special Conditions are evaluated and created with program specific technical staff and health evaluators and lead by OPPN.
David Pepe, P.G., Director
401 East State St.
Mail code: 401-07J
P.O. Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625
(609) 292-1921 (fax)