Development of the borough has been affected by its natural features. Natural resources and environmental characteristics information provides a basis for evaluating the suitability for land for development and overall planning of a community as well as a guide for conservation of sensitive environmental resources through development regulations and/or acquisition.
There are five physiographic or geological provinces in New Jersey; each characterized by a similar sequence of rock types, geologic history and geologic structures. Beachwood Borough lies in the Outer Coastal Plain, the largest geological province in New Jersey. The Outer Coastal Plain was formed over the last 170-200 million years as a result of deposition and erosion and is characterized by gently rolling terrain with sandy, droughty soils with no rock outcrops and few steep slopes. In general, it is comprised of a wedged-shaped series of unconsolidated layers of sands, clays and marls on a gently, southeastward dipping bedrock (80 to 100 feet per mile) which is 1,300 to 6,000 feet below the surface. These layers extend seaward into the submerged Continental Shelf and are overlain by deposits of both Continental and Marine origins (Upper Cretaceous Age) dating from 135-65 million years before the present.
Water is perhaps the most important natural resource affecting the development of Beachwood. Understanding how water flows in and out of Beachwood is crucial to its preservation. Hydrogeology, the study and description of the geology of surface and subsurface water flow, is how to understand these flows. The borough originally developed along the Toms River and the entire borough is part of the New Jersey Pine Barrens ecosystem. The most important non-living element of the Pine Barrens ecosystem is water, considering its availability and characteristic chemistry. Water is stored in the extensive sand aquifers below the surface. Groundwater supports 89 percent of the flow in the Pinelands streams, discharging primarily through the swamps and marshes. It is replenished solely by precipitation, of which about 44 percent of the annual total percolates through the sandy soil surface. Although highly permeable, the uppermost soils tend to be chemically inert with a low absorptive capacity to filter out wastes. In addition, the waters are susceptible to various forms of pollution because they are weakly buffered against chemical change. Protection of groundwater resources was one of the primary reasons that the Federal and State governments created the Pinelands Commission in 1980.
Numerous aquifer systems, aquifers, and sub-aquifers occur throughout the Coastal Plain. Only the following five, however, can be considered regional in nature and capable of producing substantial quantities of water:
Potomac-Raritan-Magothy Aquifer System
Wenonah Formation and Mount Laurel Sand
The most significant water feature in Beachwood is the Toms River extending along the northern border of the borough. The Toms River tributaries originate in parts of Millstone and Freehold Townships in Monmouth County and Jackson, Manchester, Dover and Berkeley Township in Ocean County. It drains into Barnegat Bay and ultimately into the Atlantic Ocean. The other significant water feature in Beachwood Borough is the Jake’s Branch, a tributary of the Toms River that borders Beachwood along a portion of the northwestern corner of the borough. In addition, a small tributary of the Jake’s Branch crosses the southwestern portion of Beachwood West. Associated with the Toms River and Jake’s Branch and its tributaries are floodplains and wetlands. These features are shown on Figure 6-1 Hydrologic Features and include the Toms River and Jake’s Branch.
The 100 year floodplains are delineated by the Federal Emergency Management Act on Floodplain Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM). The 100-year floodplains cover approximately 160 acres in Beachwood Borough, over 80 percent of them west of the parkway. Most of the remaining floodplains exist along the southwestern portion of the borough, just east of the parkway along the Toms River at the eastern end of the borough.
Permits for stream encroachment are required for any activity in stream channels within the 100 year floodplain under the Flood Hazard Control Act (N.J.S.A. 58:16A-50 et seq.). This program is administered by the NJDEP, Division of Water Resources, Bureau of Floodplain Management. The dredging or filling of navigable waters, as well as the floodplains and tributaries of navigable waterways, is regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District, under the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344).
In addition, most residential and commercial mortgage holders require insurance coverage for structures built within a 100 year flood zone, as shown on the FIRM maps.
Coastal or tidal wetlands are regulated by the Wetlands Act of 1970, N.J.S.A. 13:9A-1, which became effective on November 5, 1970. This act provides for regulations of the estuarine lands between the land and ocean. The only area affected by the Coastal Wetlands regulations is the fringe are of the Toms River in the northeastern section of the borough. Since this area is developed, the regulations will only affect expansion of riverfront properties.
The riverfront area is also regulated by state laws pertaining to riparian rights within the Toms River, tidelands, and waterfront development regulations for riverfront development and development east of the Garden State Parkway regulated by the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA). (N.J.S.A. 13:19-1 et seq. and N.J.A.C. 7:7E-1 et seq.).
Over 90 percent of the approximately 170 acres of wetlands in the borough are west of the parkway, mostly in the southern portion of Beachwood West. Most of the existing wetlands are freshwater, coniferous scrub/shrub wetlands, with small palustrine forested wetland complexes as well as Atlantic White Cedar wetland complexes.
Wetlands are regulated by the NJDEP outside of the Pinelands Regulatory Area and by the Pinelands Commission within the Pinelands Regulatory Area. In Beachwood, wetlands are regulated by the NJDEP east of the Garden State Parkway and by the Pinelands Commission west of the parkway.
Activities within wetlands east of the parkway are regulated by NJDEP under the Freshwater Wetlands Act of 1987, N.J.S.A. 13:9B-1. Statewide General Permits or Individual Permits may be required depending on the amount of disturbance. The NJDEP must be requested to field verify the extent of any wetland acreage found on-site. In accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:7E et sq., up to one acre of disturbance is permitted under the various Statewide General Permits. If one acre of fill is exceeded, an Individual Permit will be required.
Wetland classification is solely determined by the NJDEP. If a wetland area is less than 5,000 square feet it is classified as an ordinary value wetland. If the wetland exceeds 5,000 square feet, it is classified as an intermediate value wetland, requiring a 50-foot transition from the wetland to the closest activity. If threatened or endangered species are present, the wetland is classified as an exceptional value wetland and warrants a 150-foot transition area from the wetland to the closest activity.
State Open Waters (SOW) are areas lacking the required wetland criteria and require no buffer area. When building a bridge over a SOW, a disturbance of up to 0.25 acres of wetlands for the footings will require a Statewide General Permit. If the disturbance is greater than 0.25 acres of wetlands or the bridge requires a span greater than 100 feet, an Individual Permit is required.
Wetlands west of the parkway are regulated by the Pinelands Commission through the Comprehensive Management Plan in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:50-6. The Pinelands regulations require a 300 foot transition area from any delineated wetland in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:50-6.14.
The United States Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service (SCS), has delineated soil types on a county basis in New Jersey. The 1980 Ocean County Soil Survey identifies 13 soil types found in 11 general soil associations in Beachwood which include: Atsion, Berryland, Downer, Fripp, Lakehurst, Lakewood, Manhawkin, Psamments, Pits, Urban Land, and Woodmansie. Soils are identified on Figure 6-3, Soils.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service regulates the disturbance of soil exceeding 5,000 square feet of surface area for a variety of purposes. There are 17 soil conservation districts in New Jersey which administer the Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Act (N.J.S.A. 4:24-1 et seq.) through the review and certification of subdivision site plans that result in the disturbance of 5,000 square feet or more of land area. Beachwood is under the jurisdiction of the Ocean Soil Conservation District located on Lacey Road in Forked River, New Jersey.
Hydric soils, as identified in the Ocean County Soil Survey, are typically divided into three groups according to their degree of association with wetlands. The National Wetlands Inventory, issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, has classified the Hydric Soils of New Jersey as follows:
Group 1 Hydric Soils are those soils that nearly always display consistent hydric conditions. Berryland sand, frequently flooded (BF) and Manahawkin muck (Ma) are Group 1 Hydric Soils, of which there are approximately 15 acres in the western portion of the borough known as Beachwood West. This is less than 0.1 percent of the borough and 8.6 percent of the hydric soils in the borough.
Group 2 Hydric Soils are soils displaying consistent hydric conditions in most places, but additional verification is necessary. Atsion sand (At) is a Group 2 Hydric Soil, which overlays a total of approximately 160 acres representing 8.9 percent of the total area or 91.4 percent of the hydric soils in the borough.
There are no identified Group 3 Hydric Soils within the borough.
Hydric soils are regulated by the NJDEP through the Freshwater Wetlands Act, and by CAFRA and the Pinelands Commission through development regulations within the Pineslands Comprehensive Management Plan and the CAFRA Regulations.
Hydric soils in the eastern portion of the borough will have little impact on the future development of the borough since freshwater wetlands only affect small isolated wetlands in low spots where water has been trapped over time. Most of the land east of the parkway has already been developed and is serviced by public water and sanitary sewer systems. Hydric soils occur in wide bands along the streams in Beachwood West. Freshwater wetlands have been delineated and have been reviewed and verified by the Pinelands Commission in 1999 in conjunction with the Ocean County application for development of a proposed golf course.
Soil characteristics, including permeability, percolation rates, slope, texture and depth to water table affect the ability of the land to operate as a septic absorption field. In Beachwood Borough, the area east of the parkway has been almost entirely developed, with all existing development on a public wastewater system. The Beachwood area west of the parkway is not curerntly served by the Beachwood Borough Utilities Authority sewer system. The area is serviced by the Ocean County Utilities Authority Central Regional Treatment Plan and regional collection system. Septic systems are regulated by the NJDEP, the Ocean County Health Department, and the Ocean County Water Quality Management Program. Strict regulations are applied to septic systems in the Pinelands Area by the Pinelands Commission.
Beachwood is located in the northeastern area of the Pine Barrens, a unique natural system that includes over one million acres in southern and central New Jersey. Identified primarily by pine and oak classifications, the vegetation can be divided into upland and lowland forest complexes.
Upland forests occupy areas in which the winter water table generally remains at least 1.5 feet below the ground surfact and are distinguished by oak and pine vegetation. Most of the borough and nearly the entire borough east of the parkway has a water table, which supports upland forest vegetation.
In contrast, lowland forests occur in areas that are flooded or in which the water table rises to less than 18 inches of soil surface during the year. Lowland forests are comprised principally of Atlantic white cedar, red maple, black gum, sweetbay magnolia and lowland pitch pine. West of the parkway, approximately 170 acres coinciding with the extent of hydric soils can be considered lowland forest based on depth to seasonal high water table.
The upland forest complex is composed of two generalized types, the oak-pine forest and pine-oak forest. The lowland forest complex includes three generalized types: cedar swamp forest, hardwood swamp forest and pitch pine lowland or pine swamp forest. Cedar swamp forests are perhaps one of the most unique and environmentally critical features of the lowland and wetlands Pine Barrens vegetation. Approximately fifteen acres of Atlantic white cedar exist in Beachwood Borough occur along Jakes Branch and its tributaries. (The lower portion of Jakes Branch in South Toms River, east of the parkway, is classified as Hardwood Swamp Forest). The remainder of the lowland forest complex is pitch pine lowland forest.