Tagged: Planning Board

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...

Howard Geneslaw Argues Before NJ Supreme Court in Dunbar Homes on Behalf of NJ State Bar Association

On Monday, April 9, 2018, Howard D. Geneslaw, a Director in the Gibbons Real Property Department, argued before the Supreme Court of New Jersey on behalf of the New Jersey State Bar Association (“NJSBA”) as an amicus curiae in the matter of Dunbar Homes, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of the Township of Franklin. The NJSBA was one of several amici involved in this case of first impression on the key question of when a submission to a municipal planning board is considered an “application for development” for purposes of being afforded protection under the “time of application” rule. The “time of application” rule provides that the zoning regulations which govern the review of an application for development are those in effect at the time it is submitted. The issue to be decided by the New Jersey Supreme Court centers on what constitutes submission of an application for development which allows the applicant to invoke the protection of the “time of application” rule. The Appellate Division, in a reported decision, ruled that protection is not available until an applicant submits all documents specified in the municipality’s application checklist adopted by ordinance, although the application need not have been deemed complete for protection to vest, but did not address what occurs when the checklist is...

New Jersey Appellate Division Warns Planning Boards That Avoiding Controversy Risks Automatic Approval

When reviewing land use applications, “the rule of law is paramount and cannot be sidestepped to avoid deciding unpopular land use applications.” In issuing this reminder, the New Jersey Appellate Division recently affirmed the automatic approval of a site plan application that modified a planned unit development approval (PUD) dating back to 1997, underscoring the principle that land use applications are to be adjudicated on the merits in a timely fashion. In Shipyard Associates v. Hoboken Planning Board, et al., an unpublished decision, a developer was granted PUD approval in 1997 for a mixed use waterfront project that included residential high-rise apartment buildings, commercial retail space, a parking garage, and tennis courts. The developer constructed the project, except for the tennis facilities, and, in 2011, applied for site plan approval to build two additional residential towers instead of the tennis courts. Although the applicant was deemed complete in October 2011, the matter was not scheduled to be heard at a Planning Board meeting until approximately eight months later. In the interim, the City sued the developer seeking to enforce its perceived rights under the developer’s agreement for the 1997 PUD approval. Due to the filing of that lawsuit, when the Planning Board finally turned to the application in July 2012, the Planning Board refused to consider...

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.

New York Appellate Division Strikes Conditions of Approval Unrelated to Site Plan Which Arose from Applicant’s Past Conduct

In its recent decision in the Matter of Kempisty v. Town of Geddes, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, provides an important reminder to approving authorities that conditions attached to the approval of site plans must have some legitimate relationship or “nexus” to the project’s impacts or they will be stricken. Although the case breaks no new ground, it does effectively outline the considerations that should be applied when determining whether to impose conditions of approval.

New Jersey Time of Decision Rule – The End Nears

New Jersey case law has consistently held that new or modified development ordinance provisions apply to pending land use applications, even if the proposed zoning was specifically introduced to thwart a pending application. This has historically been known as the “time of decision” rule. On May 5, 2011, the time of decision rule will run out of time.

A New Jersey Statute That May Go a Long Way On Your Next Solar or Wind Project!

Experienced New Jersey developers and land use attorneys understand the challenges that face an applicant when the proposed use is not expressly permitted in the municipality’s zoning district wherethe subject property is located. The challenge is only more complicated if the proposed use involves novel or unfamiliar technology such as renewable energy. However, in New Jersey, the government has been proactive in welcoming renewable energy projects through grants and legislation, making New Jersey definitely the place to be if you want to develop property geared towards the creation of a renewable energy facility powered by solar or wind.

What You Need to Know About Variances and Existing Non-Conformities for Your Next Development Application in NJ

Earlier this month, the New Jersey Appellate Division decided and approved for publication Cortesini v. Hamilton Township Planning Board, a case that addressed the issue of whether a developer must apply for a variance in connection with a pre-existing non-conforming condition created by a prior/non-appealable development approval. The Court’s answer was a resounding “no” based on the facts presented.

New York Subdivision Law Amended to Allow Planning Boards Greater Flexibility in Granting Extensions

Due to the current economic climate and project financing difficulties, Section 276(7)(c) of the New York Town Law was recently amended to allow planning boards greater flexibility in extending subdivision approval beyond the two ninety (90) day extensions previously allowed. Town Law 276(7)(c) provides that a conditional final subdivision plat expires 180 days following the date of the resolution of approval unless all conditions are satisfied. It further authorizes planning boards to grant two extensions, having a duration of ninety (90) days each, after expiration of the original 180-day timeframe for satisfaction of conditions of approval.