Tagged: Variance

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...

Mere Fact That Application Would Bring Development Closer Into Compliance With Zoning Code Insufficient to Warrant Grant of Site Plan Approval and Variance, N.J. Appellate Division Affirms

The New Jersey Appellate Division recently affirmed denial of an application for site plan approval and variance relief despite an applicant’s contention that the application’s issues identified by the Planning Board were too minor to justify denial of the application that would bring the subject property into conformity with the zoning code. Although unpublished and nonbinding, the decision confirms New Jersey courts’ broad deference to local boards in this state, making clear that if a land use board’s legitimate concerns are not addressed by an application, the mere fact that the application would bring a property into conformity with the local zoning code is insufficient to secure a variance under New Jersey’s Municipal Land Use Law. In World Wheat Foundation, Inc. v. Planning Board of the Township of Saddle River, et al., a church-based, not-for-profit organization, sought site plan approval and variance relief to convert a property that previously served as a residential facility for the elderly into a vocational school to assist Korean families with language and the arts. The previous facility ceased operations more than two years prior to the application. The property was situated in the Township’s Secondary Business Zone, in which the former residential facility was not a permitted use, but the proposed vocational school was permitted. The applicant also sought...

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).

New Jersey’s Time of Application Rule Does Not Bar a Favorable Zoning Amendment

In a published decision, the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled on July 27 that the “time of application” rule, which mandates that development applications are governed by the regulations in effect at the time of submission, and was intended to protect applicants from negative zone changes while their applications were pending, does not apply to zone changes which benefit a project.

Gibbons Directors Howard Geneslaw and Lawrence Lustberg to Speak at 2014 New Jersey Planning Conference

Howard D. Geneslaw, a Director in the Gibbons Real Estate Development practice group, and Lawrence S. Lustberg, a Director in the Gibbons Criminal Defense Department, as well as the Director of the firm’s John J. Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest & Constitutional Law, will both speak at the “2014 New Jersey Planning Conference” presented by the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association on January 23-24.

NJDEP Holds Its 12th Annual Regulatory Update Conference

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) held its 12th Annual Regulatory Update Conference on November 22, 2013. The conference provided brief regulatory updates from a number of NJDEP departments and programs. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) held its 12th Annual Regulatory Update Conference on November 22, 2013. The conference provided brief regulatory updates from a number of NJDEP departments and programs including: The Environmental Management Program; The Site Remediation Program; ; The Bureau of Air Quality Planning; The Office of Environmental Justice; The Bureau of Environmental Evaluation & Risk Assessment; The Emission Statement Program; and The Office of Science.

Brand New Philadelphia Zoning Code Amended After Only 5 Months

Well that didn’t take long. Last August, following a four year process, the City of Philadelphia’s comprehensive new zoning code became law. Because of the law’s broad scope and sweeping changes, it was agreed that the Code would be revisited one year after its enactment to determine its effectiveness and to consider making any necessary changes. Yet, on January 24, 2013, a mere 5 months later ,the Philadelphia City Council, overriding a veto by Mayor Michael Nutter, passed Bill No. 120889 by a vote of 13-3 and amended the new Code, significantly complicating pre-hearing interaction between neighbors and developers which the Code was intended to streamline. While Council has enacted some minor “clean-up” amendments to the Code since August, this amendment could have substantial consequences.

Gibbons Director Howard Geneslaw to Speak at Upcoming 2013 New Jersey Planning Conference

Howard D. Geneslaw, a Director in the Gibbons Real Property & Environmental Department, will speak at the upcoming NJ Chapter of the American Planning Association’s 2013 New Jersey Planning Conference on, “The Use Variance: Whether, When and How?” The panel will cover New Jersey’s unique, ever changing concept of a policy variance.

Howard Geneslaw to Speak at NJICLE’s Land Use Basics Program

Howard D. Geneslaw, Esq., a Director in the Gibbons Real Estate Development practice group, will speak at the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education’s (NJICLE) annual program “Land Use Basics” on June 13, 2012. Mr. Geneslaw’s topic will be redevelopment law. The all-day program is designed to provide practitioners with a roadmap for navigating the land use maze. All of the speakers serve on the Board of Directors of the Land Use Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

The New Philadelphia Zoning Code – Take Notice

The revised Philadelphia Zoning Code will be effective before your Labor Day barbeque is over, and there is a smorgasbord of changes to digest. For instance, let’s take “notice,” a contentious issue the new Code seeks to resolve with procedural safeguards and requirements. A frequent area of conflict under the current (soon to be former) Code centered on interactions between developers and neighbors during the zoning/use approval process. Many times, a developer would complain that it did not know which neighborhood civic association represented a particular area, or that a civic association’s meeting schedule resulted in delays in the zoning hearing and approval process. Conversely, neighbors would charge that they were not given adequate notice of applications filed or permits issued with enough lead time to have meaningful input into the process. The revised Code seeks to balance the property owner/developer’s interest in certainty, both in terms of time required to complete the application process and identification of potentially interested parties, against the neighbors’ need for notice of the application and an opportunity to participate.