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Environmental Commission Enabling Legislation


N.J.S.A. 40:56A; originally passed 1968; amended 1972, 1975, 1989


40:56A-1 Commission; appointment; term; vacancies.
40:56A-2 Powers of commission.
40:56A-3 Acquisitions by commission.
40:56A-4 Records and annual report.
40:56A-5 Appropriations.
40:56A-6 Studies and recommendations.
40:56A-7 Conservation Commission as environmental commission.
40:56A-8 Joint environmental commission; creation by ordinance; members; compensation.
40:56A-9 Chairman; qualification; term in office.
40:56A-10 Expenses; appointment; appropriation.
40:56A-11 Functions; duties and powers.
40:56A-12 Succession of established commission by joint commission; transfers.


The governing body of any municipality may by ordinance establish an environmental commission for the protection, development or use of natural resources, including water resources, located within its territorial limits. The commission shall consist of not less than five nor more than seven members, appointed by the mayor of the municipality, one of whom shall be a member of the municipal planning board and all of whom shall be residents of the municipality; the members shall serve without compensation except as hereafter provided.

The mayor of the municipality shall designate one of the members to serve as chairman and presiding officer of the commission. The terms of office for the first commissioners shall be for 1, 2 or 3 years, to be designated by the mayor in making his appointments so that the terms of approximately 1/3 of the members will expire each year, and their successors shall be appointed for terms of 3 years and until the appointment and qualification of their successors.

The mayor or governing body of the municipality may remove any member of the commission for cause, on written charges served upon the member and after a hearing thereon at which the member shall be entitled to be heard in person or by counsel. A vacancy on the commission occurring otherwise than by expiration of a term shall be filled for the unexpired term in the same manner as an original appointment.

Notwithstanding any other provision of the law to the contrary, the powers of appointment and removal hereby accorded to the mayor of a municipality shall be vested in the elected official so designated or, where there is a vacancy in the office of mayor, on the duly designated acting mayor.

The governing body may, by ordinance, provide for the appointment of not more than two alternate members. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law or charter heretofore adopted, the ordinance shall provide the methods of appointment of alternate members. Alternate members shall be designated at the time of appointment by the authority appointing them as "Alternate No. 1" and "Alternate No. 2."

The terms of the alternate members shall be for two years, except the terms of the alternate members first appointed shall be two years for Alternate No. 1 and one year for Alternate No. 2 so that the term of not more than one alternate member shall expire in any one year. A vacancy occurring otherwise than by expiration of term shall be filled by the appointing authority for the unexpired term only.

An alternate member shall not be permitted to act on any matter in which he has either directly or indirectly any personal or financial interest. An altJanuary 16, 2009 be removed by the governing body for cause. An alternate member may participate in discussions of the proceedings but may not vote except in the absence or disqualification of a regular member. A vote shall not be delayed in order that a regular member may vote instead of an alternate member. In the event that a choice must be made as to which alternate member is to vote, Alternate No. 1 shall vote first.


An environmental commission organized under this act shall have power to conduct research into the use and possible use of the open land areas of the municipality and may coordinate the activities of unofficial bodies organized for similar purposes, and may advertise, prepare, print and distribute books, maps, charts, plans and pamphlets which in its judgment it deems necessary for its purposes. It shall keep an index of all open areas, publicly or privately owned, including open marshland, swamps and other wetlands, in order to obtain information on the proper use of such areas, and may from time to time recommend to the planning board or, if none, to the mayor and governing body of the municipality plans and programs for inclusion in a municipal master plan and the development and use of such areas.


An environmental commission may, subject to the approval of the governing body, acquire property, both real and personal, in the name of the municipality by gift, purchase, grant, bequest, devise or lease for any of its purposes and shall administer the same for such purposes subject to the terms of the conveyance or gift. Such an acquisition may be to acquire the fee or any lesser interest, development right, easement (including conservation easement), covenant or other contractual right (including a conveyance on conditions or with limitations or reversions), as may be necessary to acquire, maintain, improve, protect, limit the future use of, or otherwise conserve and properly utilize open spaces and other land and water areas in the municipality.


An environmental commission shall keep records of its meetings and activities and shall make an annual report to the governing body of the municipality.


The governing body of a municipality may appropriate funds for the expenses incurred by the environmental commission. The commission may appoint such clerks and other employees as it may from time to time require and as shall be within the limits of funds appropriated to it.


An environmental commission shall have power to study and make recommendations concerning open space preservation, water resource management, air pollution control, solid waste management, noise control, soil and landscape protection, environmental appearance, marine resources and protection of flora and fauna.


Any conservation commission established pursuant to this act shall be an environmental commission.


  1. The governing bodies of two or more municipalities may, by adoption of substantially similar ordinances, create a joint environmental commission for the protection, development or use of natural resources, including water resources located within their combined territorial limits.
  2. The number and qualifications of the members of such joint environmental commission, and their terms and methods of appointment or removal shall be such as may be determined and agreed upon by said governing bodies and set forth in the ordinance creating such joint commission, except that
    1. when such joint commission is created by two municipalities only, there shall be at least three members from each municipality;
    2. when such joint commission is created by three or more municipalities, there shall be at least two members from each municipality;
    3. at least one member from each municipality shall be a member of the planning board (if any) of the municipality, and
    4. a majority of the members of the joint commission shall hold no other public office, except membership on a municipal or other planning board. c. Members of the commission shall serve without compensation, but may receive reimbursement for actual expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties as members of the commission.


A joint environmental commission shall elect its chairman, who shall hold no other public office or position, except that he may be a member of a municipal or other planning board. The term of the chairman shall be one year, and he shall be eligible to succeed himself unless the ordinance creating the commission shall otherwise provide. The ordinance requires the chairmanship of the commission be rotated annually so that over each period of years corresponding to the number of participating municipalities it shall be held in each year by a member appointed from a different participating municipality.


The proportion of the expense of the joint environmental commission to be home by each participating municipality shall be such as may be determined and agreed upon by the participating municipalities, and said municipalities are hereby authorized to appropriate their respective shares of such expenses. Within the limits thus agreed upon and duly appropriated the commission may employ such clerical and technical or other assistants and may incur such other expenses as it may deem necessary to carry out its functions.


A commission created pursuant to this supplementary act shall have, with respect to all the participating municipalities, and to each of them, all the functions, duties and powers of an environmental commission established in a single municipality under section 2 and 3 of PL. 1968, c. 245 (C.40:56A-2 and 40:56A-3) and section 7 of PL. 1972, c. 35 (C.40:56A-6).


If any municipality which has heretofore established an environmental commission under the act to which this act is a supplement shall enter into participation in a joint environmental commission, such environmental commission heretofore established shall be abolished upon the taking effect of the ordinance establishing the joint environmental commission, and the terms of the members of such abolished environmental commission shall immediately cease and terminate. Except as may otherwise be provided in the ordinance establishing such joint commission, all employees of such abolished environmental commission, and all the records, property and funds in its possession or under its control shall be transferred to the joint environmental commission, and its debts and other financial obligations shall be assumed by the joint environmental commission.

*Current as of December 5, 2005, WTEC Chairman, Mark Napolitano.


Invasives in Washington Twp.






Additional Resources

National Park Service Plant Invaders brochure 

Invasive Species Library

Invasive Plants Home Page

Invasive Species Strike Team APP 

Safe Medicine Drop


Project Medicine Drop is a program designed to allow Township residents to properly and safely dispose of their unwanted or expired household medications.

Residents can bring their unwanted or expired household medications removed from the original packaging and placed in a zip lock or similar type plastic bag to the Washington Township Police Department  24 hours a day. Residents will then place their medication into the Project Medicine Drop box which is located inside Police Headquarters at the police station anonymously and free of charge.  The medications will then safely and properly be destroyed.  

No liquids or sharps/needles can be taken at this location.

The Washington Township Police Department is located at 1 East Springtown Road.