New Jersey Issues Regulations Governing the Conduct of Remote Public Meetings, Effective Immediately

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services (“DCA”), has issued emergency regulations which, according to a recently issued notice, “establish standard protocols for remote public meetings held by a ‘local public body’ during a Governor-declared emergency, including minimum procedures to be followed to provide reasonable public notice and allowance for public input.” The DCA advises that the emergency regulations are presently in effect and have been concurrently proposed for permanent adoption in the upcoming October 19, 2020 New Jersey Register. Comments will be accepted through November 18, 2020. As we reported previously, soon after the declaration of the COVID-19 public health emergency and the issuance of Executive Order 107, which restricted public gatherings, most governing bodies, planning boards, zoning boards of adjustment, and other public bodies in New Jersey initially canceled their meetings. Then, gradually, many began meeting remotely, relying on both existing statutory authority and emergency legislation to facilitate the conduct of electronic meetings, enacted as P.L. 2020, ch. 11 and codified in the Open Public Meetings Act at N.J.S.A. 10:4-9.3, which provides that during a declared emergency, a local public body may, using communication or other electronic equipment, conduct a meeting and any public business to be conducted thereat; cause a meeting to be open to the public;...