ZONING & PLANNING
All New Jersey municipalities each have their own zoning and planning laws regulating development and construction. All property owners who want to construct a building or home, make changes to an existing building or home, must obtain a building permit and a zoning permit by applying to the appropriate municipal officials.
If the permit sought is for a use which is not permitted or is only conditionally permitted, or if the building or home desired to be constructed violates the local zoning laws, the applicant will be denied the requested permit and advised how they will to apply for the requested approval to the municipal Planning Board, Zoning Board or to a combined Land Use Board.
These Municipal Boards act in a quasi-judicial capacity as the finders of the facts before them and holds a public meeting for each and every application providing members of the public with a chance to be heard and voice their support or objection to any application. The Board will render a decision based upon the facts and evidence presented municipal ordinances and the Master Plan of the municipality.
It can be a very intimidating process to appear before a Board as the applicant must present all of the necessary information in a clear and cohesive fashion so that the Board Members can make a proper determination in the case. In addition, many times neighbors appear and raise objections to the applications before the Board.
Our attorneys have presented numerous applications for variances, Site Plans, Subdivisions, and Appeals before Planning Boards and Zoning Boards and Land Use Boards throughout Ocean County. Our lawyers know how to effectively argue cased before the Board, what proofs to provide the Board, which witnesses to call.
In addition, the applicant will need to complete the necessary Municipal Application for development, pay all necessary fees and post all necessary Bonds and Costs, and comply with all of the local and statutory requirements before the application can be heard in by the Municipal Zoning or Planning or Land Use Board.
SITE PLAN REVIEW
Generally, a “Minor Site Plan” is a development of 1 or more lots which proposes new development within the scope of development specifically permitted by local ordinance as a minor site plan and does not involve and Planned Development, any new street or extension of any off-street development. Any Site Plan that does not meet the definition of a Minor Site Plan under the local ordinances will be considered a Major Site Plan for development.
All applications for a Site Plan are heard during a public meeting of the local Planning Board where the applicant can seek Preliminary Site Plan Approval and thereafter, Final Site Plan Approval. Depending on the complexity of the application and the local municipality involved, these approvals may require several meetings to obtain.
Our law office can assist you in your Site Plan Application for development as we have many years of experience before local Planning and Land Use Review Boards.
A Subdivision is the division of a lot, tract or parcel of land into 2 or more lots, tracts, parcels or other divisions of land for sale or development. NJSA 40:55D-7.
An application for a Subdivision is heard during a public meeting of the local Planning Board where the applicant can seek Preliminary Subdivision Approval and thereafter, Final Subdivision Approval. Depending on the complexity of the application and the local municipality involved, these approvals may require several meetings to obtain.
Our law office can assist you in your Subdivision Application for development as we have many years of experience before local Planning and Land Use Review Boards.
There are two types of variances that can be obtained, a Bulk Variance or a Special Reason or Use Variance.
A Bulk Variance is granted under NJSA 40:55D-70(C) and is also known as a “C” variance. A “C1” variance is granted when there is a finding by the Board arising out of the shape or topographic conditions of a specific piece of property, sometimes referred to as a “hardship” variance.
A Bulk Variance is granted under NJSA 40:55D-70(C)2 where the purposes of the Act would be advanced by a deviation from the zoning ordinance requirements and the benefits would outweigh any detriment to the public good.
These variances are granted by a majority vote by the Members of the Board. The applicant should keep in mind, however, that the Board is not required to either grant or deny the exact variance requested. The Board has the discretion to grant such relief as the Board may deem to be proper under all of the circumstances of the matter before it. In addition, the Board has the authority to grant approval subject to conditions that the Board deems to be necessary given the circumstances.
A Special Reasons or “Use” variance is a more difficult variance for a Board to grant. It is the applicant’s burden to show “special reasons” in order for a Board to grant the variance relief requested. In general, a Use Variance or Special Reasons Variance may be granted when the refusal to allow the project would impose on the applicant an undue hardship and/or when a proposed project carries out a purpose of zoning as defined in NJSA 40:55D-2. There must be a finding by the Board that the general welfare is served because the use is peculiarly fitted to the particular location for which the variance is sought.
A Special Reasons or Use Variance is also required when the owner of a lawfully created preexisting nonconforming use is being enlarged or modified, such as with an expansion of a duplex dwelling in an area where duplex structures are no longer permitted.
It is a much harder standard to receive an approval of a Special Reason or Use Variance. The approval of a Use or Special Reasons Variance requires the affirmative vote of 5 members of a single municipal Board or 2/3rds of the full authorized membership of a joint Board (Land Use Board).
APPEALING A DECISION OF THE LOCAL BOARD
If a Planning Board, Zoning Board or Land Use Board grants or denies an application before it, you have a right to appeal that decision to the Court. Appeals from local land use decisions are primarily accomplished by filing actions with the Superior Court in lieu of Prerogative Writs. The case will be reviewed by a single Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey.
There are strict time requirements which must be met in order to file a timely appeal with the Court. Our attorneys have represented many applicants and local Boards in the Superior Court for over thirty (30) years.
If your application for relief has been denied by the local Board or if an application you have opposed has been granted, please contact our lawyers to discuss what options you may have to appeal the decision of the local Board.
For more than thirty-five (35) years, our lawyers have assisted people and Corporations with applications for development before local Planning Boards, Zoning Boards and Land Use Boards of Adjustment. In addition our office has served as the attorneys for several local Zoning and Planning Boards including the Long Beach Township Zoning Board of Adjustment and thereafter, the Long Beach Township Land Use Board.
We can help you with all of your development needs including Site Plans, Subdivisions, Bulk Variances, Special Reasons and Use Variance needs.