Tagged: Board of Adjustment

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;...

New Jersey Issues Guidance to Assist Land Use Boards in Holding Electronic Meetings and Hearings

In the wake of Executive Order 103 declaring the COVID-19 public health emergency and Executive Order 107 concerning restrictions on public gatherings, most planning boards and zoning boards of adjustment in New Jersey cancelled their scheduled meetings and have since been evaluating how to resume meeting in a manner that complies with social distancing requirements and Executive Order 107. This has left applicants uncertain when and in what manner their applications for development will be considered and decided. Following enactment of emergency legislation to facilitate the conduct of electronic meetings, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services, has issued guidance to specifically assist planning boards and zoning boards of adjustment with conducting public hearings electronically on applications for development. The guidance, titled “Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustments Operational Guidance – COVID-19: N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1, Recommendations for Land Use Public Meetings in New Jersey,” is a first step in assisting land use boards – some of which have been hesitant to begin holding “virtual” meetings – with the mechanics of arranging for and conducting electronic meetings and public hearings. The Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) requires land use boards to hold meetings at least monthly. Such boards must meet as scheduled unless there is a lack of applications for development to...

Appellate Division Underscores Need for Findings, and Potentially More Testimony, to Approve Reduction of Variance

It’s a common scenario: after a series of public hearings, the scope of variance relief sought is reduced by the applicant or at the direction of the board, and the board then approves the application. A recent unreported opinion from New Jersey’s Appellate Division underscores that the resolution of approval must explain how and why the reduced scope of relief satisfies the variance criteria when the original proposal did not. This may require presentation of additional testimony by the applicant in support of the modifications. In 440 Company-Carriage House, LP v. Zoning Bd. of Adjustment for the Borough of Palisades Park, the Zoning Board of Adjustment for the Borough of Palisades Park (“Board”) granted three use variances (along with final site plan approval and certain bulk variance relief) to enable the construction of a 14-story, 121-unit, residential building. The relief granted by the Board represented a substantial reduction from what the applicant-developer had actually sought and presented testimony in support of over the course of a public hearing which extended for nine meetings. The developer had originally applied for use variances to permit a 17-story building, with 154 units. Rather than approving the project as presented, or denying it, the Board, acting on its own, voted to grant the variances with a reduction from 17...

FEMA Amendments to Base Floor Elevation Requirements, When Minor, Do Not Necessarily Give Rise to Hardship Showing for Height Variance Says NJ App Div

In its recent decision in Richmond URF, LLC v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of the City of Jersey City, the Appellate Division held that a minor alteration in base floor elevation requirements in the wake of FEMA’s amendments to the regulations after SuperStorm Sandy does not necessarily give rise to showing a hardship in support of a height variance under N.J.S.A. 40:55D-70(d)(6).

Newark Requires Developers to Identify Environmental Impacts of Projects

Recently, the City of Newark (the “City”) approved Ordinance No. 16-0803, a/k/a the Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts Ordinance, (the “Ordinance”), which may significantly impact the process for seeking development approvals from the City. The Ordinance purports to advance the policy of promoting environmental justice, environmental stewardship, and sustainable economic development in the City. More specifically, the Ordinance seeks to mitigate the disproportionate impact of pollution and environmental degradation on the health of minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, otherwise known as “environmental injustice.” As the Ordinance notes, the prevalence of environmentally overburdened, underserved, and economically distressed communities near industrial centers and other areas afflicted by poor environmental quality is well documented.

Legislature Contemplates Extension of Moratorium on Statewide Non-Residential Development Fee

At the end of last week, the New Jersey State Senate (“Senate”) introduced Bill S3116 that proposes to continue the moratorium on the statewide non-residential development fee (the “Fee”) that expired on July 1, 2013. Since July 1, 2013, developers and land use attorneys have been in a state of flux with regard to whether the fee applies to development projects. If passed, this legislation would extend the moratorium to December 31, 2014.

The Extension of the Permit Extension Act is on the Move, To Be Reviewed Today By Assembly Appropriations Committee

About two months ago, several NJ Legislators, including State Senator Paul Sarlo (Bergen/Passaic) and Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, proposed bills that would amend the 2008 “Permit Extension Act.” Designed to give developers breathing room in the sluggish economy by extending the validity of development approvals, Proposed Bill S743 (the “Bill” or “S743”) is gaining traction and is moving through the necessary legislative committees. On March 5, 2012, S743 passed by a vote of 4-0 by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The Bill is scheduled to go before the Assembly Appropriations Committee on March 12, 2012.

Proposed Legislation Will Require Shopping Center Developments in NJ to Provide Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles

One of the problems with electric cars (EVs) is – what do you do when the battery runs down? Currently there are 500 charging stations in the United States and 400 of them are in California. In an attempt to address the dead battery problem and encourage purchase of EVs, on March 21, 2011, the New Jersey State Senate introduced Bill S2784 (the “Bill”) which requires owners of shopping center developments to include charging stations. Under the Bill, owners of a “shopping center development” must equip not less than five (5%) percent of the parking spaces for the shopping center development with electric vehicle charging stations. Moreover, such stations must be available for use during the hours of operation of the shopping center development.

Taking on the NJDOT: Appellate Division Broadens Objector’s Ability to Challenge NJDOT Permits

It is not uncommon in New Jersey for businesses to fight tooth and nail to prevent competitors from obtaining development approvals. This month, in In the Matter of the Issuance of Access Conforming Lot Permit No. A-17-N-N040-2007 by the New Jersey Department of Transportation for Block 136, Lots 2 and 3 in Mahwah Township, New Jersey, the Appellate Division dragged the New Jersey Department of Transportation (“NJDOT”) into the fight and provided objectors with another path to delay or even prevent a business competitor from moving into town.

Land Use Public Notices: N.J. Developers/Attorneys Beware!!!

In the most recent case decided in New Jersey on the issue of the adequacy of a land use public notice, the court continued the trend of requiring applicants on development applications to put as much information in their notices as possible to make the general public aware of the nature of the matter under consideration. In Neshanic Coalition for Historic Preservation v. Hillsborough Township Planning Board, Judge Buchsbaum ruled that the applicant’s public notice failed to meet the statutory requirement of setting forth the “nature of the matters to be considered” under the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law because it omitted the fact that the building to be demolished was located in an historic district.