New Jersey’s Time of Application Law Takes Effect Today to Lock in Zoning
The long-awaited “time of application” law, which locks in zoning under New Jersey’s Municipal Land Use Law at the time an application for development is filed, takes effect today. The law was intended to undo the “time of decision” rule under which the New Jersey Supreme Court, in Manalapan Realty v. Township Committee, 140 N.J. 366 (1995), decided that a municipality could change its zoning to negatively affect or even prohibit a project which was already under review by the municipal planning board. As a result, developers often were at peril if community opposition developed during the review and approval process and a change in regulations followed.
As of today, the development regulations which apply to a project will be those in effect on the date the application is filed with the municipal land use board. The new law, S-82, approved as P.L. 2010, Chapter 9 and codified at N.J.S.A. 40:55D-10.5, allowed municipalities a year to revise and update their development regulations. That year has elapsed, and municipalities are now presumed to have gotten their zoning house in order.
Beginning today, developers will be accorded the ability to rely on the development regulations which are in effect at the time they file their application, without fear of an unexpected zoning amendment if opposition develops to their proposal. The law which takes effect today follows a number of unsuccessful efforts in recent legislative sessions to enact a “time of application” rule. Finally, its time has come.