If you are a homeowner or a business owner and you are looking to improve or use the property, you may have to make an application for a variance with the town that the property is located. In order to obtain the variance you will be required to follow the procedures in the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law, which requires the Applicant to submit a detailed application, file legal notices, and have a public hearing before the Planning or Zoning board.
Under the New Jersey Constitution, each of the 564 municipalities in the State of New Jersey has the power to adopt its own Land Use and Zoning Ordinances, which create the zoning standards and permitted, conditional, and prohibited uses, in each zoning district. These zoning standards also include bulk requirements, which set the requirements for the setbacks, frontage, size of the lot, parking requirements, signage, and fence requirements, amongst other standards, for zoning district. If the use of the property does not meet the towns zoning ordinance, the property will be required to seek a Use Variance and if the property cannot meet the bulk requirements, the property owner must seek a Bulk Variance. An applicant will be required to appear before the towns Planning or Zoning Board, but must appear before the Zoning board for a Use Variance. In addition, most variances require a majority vote from the Board it appears before; however, for a Use Variance, the Applicant must obtain five (5) votes from the Zoning Board.
Under the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law, there are strict time frames and requirements that must be met in order for the towns Planning or Zoning Board to have authority to hear and decide on the application. The first step is to obtain and complete the required variance application. The application will require the applicant to provide detailed information about the applicant, the property owner (which may not be the same person or entity as the applicant), the property (including but not limited to the location, the area of the property, the frontage, the rear and side setbacks, lot and block number, and the existing and proposed use), and state the requested variance. The Applicant must also provide a list of witnesses who will testify at the public hearing, which usually include an engineer, a planner, and a surveyor. The municipality will also require the Applicant to submit the required application fee, escrow fees, and a survey or site plan.
Upon filing the application, under the New Jersey municipal Land Use Law, the Board has forty-five (45) days from the date the application is filed to review the application and determine if its complete and ready to schedule for the public hearing.
Richard D. Huxford is a Certified Municipal Attorney at Triarsi, Betancourt, Wukovits, & Dugan, L.L.C., with many years of experience handling Zoning and Planning Board Applications in various Townships in the State of New Jersey. If you need to obtain a variance or other relief from your township’s zoning ordinance please contact Richard D. Huxford, Esq. Feel free to contact him directly at (908) 709-1700, on his cellular phone at (908) 370-1393, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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