Land use sounds so simple, yet the use of your land and the regulations governing that use are more complicated than meets the eye. John Hoffmann, PP/AICP, Department Head and Township Planner, and his staff, Nora Coyne, PP/AICP, Suzanne Rose, Bob Malone, and Lisa Mann are kept busy performing the day to day work of the department and keeping abreast of the continually changing rules and regulations pertaining to land use and planning in New Jersey.
Municipal Land Use
The State of New Jersey has given the major responsibility for land use control to its municipalities. The State Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) provides for the creation of a local Planning Board and Board of Adjustment, and establishes a 3-step planning process for land development; the development of a Township Master Plan by the Planning Board; the establishment of development regulations (zoning, subdivision and site plan ordinances) by the Township Committee based on the Master Plan; and the development review and approval process at public meetings. For certain minor development projects (additions, site modifications, sheds, decks, fences, etc.), review and approval can be performed directly by the Land Use Office.
The Zoning Ordinance establishes specific requirements for a given land area within a municipality. It regulates not only the uses in the area, but the size of the parcels, required setbacks, parking, signage, conditional uses and numerous other such standards.
Since 1975 the MLUL has undergone many revisions in order to clarify what powers that are exercised by each Board separately and on an overlapping basis. The Planning Board is the board of "permitted uses" in that it reviews only projects that are permitted in a specific zone district. The board's primary functions are to develop the Master Plan for the township and implement the policies of the Plan through site plan and subdivision review. The ordinances establish a series of ground rules to be met by an applicant.
The Board of Adjustment can be referred to as the board of "non-conforming uses." That is, the Board of Adjustment reviews variances from and interpretations of the Zoning Ordinance. Both Boards conduct the review and hearing process in a public format.
Land Use Office
The job of the Land Use Office is to review all proposed development activity and determine whether a permit can be directly issued or further approval from either of the Boards is necessary. If further approval is required, the office administrates the review process for the boards through application, public hearing, and compliance with the boards' requirements. During and after the physical development of property, the office is responsible for verifying approval and permit compliance.
If you have any questions regarding the department and its operations, please do not hesitate to call, email, or pay us a visit.