Land Use Attorneys in Ocean County, New Jersey

Land use law in New Jersey – Getting started

Consult with one of our Ocean County land use attorneys when first exploring your new development project or changes to your existing lot and/or home. Your preliminary issues will be with the municipality in which the property is situated. The Zoning Officer is also a good starting point for general questions and he/she may be able to give you some initial feedback concerning whether or not your land use intentions meet the local zoning code. At the outset you will have determine whether your proposed use is permitted in the zoning district in which your lot is situated. One of our experienced land use lawyers will be able to assist in making these determinations. Call to speak with one of our land use attorneys today.

If you determine that your intended use is not permitted in the zoning district which your property is situated you will have to get the board’s approval to go forward with your project. You will need to obtain a “use variance.” To do so you must be able to prove that your project will not cause any detriment to its neighborhood and that it fits within the general purposes of planning as set forth by the State of NJ and the approved Master Plan of the Municipality. It is recommended that you obtain legal counsel for a “use variance.” In addition to legal counsel you will likely also require a professional engineer, as well as, other professionals to present your application to the zoning board.

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If you are exploring a new development project or changes to your existing lot and/or home, Consult with one of our Ocean County Land Use attorneys at Riviere Cresci & Singer LLC to schedule a free consultation. (732)-646-5529

  • Bulk Variances (“C” Variances): A departure from any provision of a zoning ordinance except use.
  • Use Variances (“D” Variances): A variance granted for a use or structure that is not permitted in the zone. Examples of use variances:
  • Use of principle structure
  • Expansion of non-conforming use
  • Deviation from a specification of standard of a conditional use
  • Increase in permitted floor area ratio
  • Increase in permitted density
  • Height > 10 feet or 10% of the maximum height permitted

The Zoning Board of Adjustment reviews applications which propose to utilize property in a manner not consistent with municipal zoning laws. They review applications for variances which are, essentially, non-permitted uses and the Board of Adjustment is empowered to grant exceptions to the zoning ordinances in cases where the literal and rigid interpretation and enforcement of the zoning laws would work hardship or injustice.

These “non-permitted uses” are based upon the zoning ordinances established by the Township in accordance with the goals stated in the municipalities’ Master Plan. A simple definition would be the Board “adjusts zoning” for specific applications, circumstances and pieces of property. Buildings, structures and businesses of various types are limited to specific zones. These zones are regulated with respect to category, nature and extent of use, along with specific plot sizes, required building setbacks, lot coverage and other regulations.

In certain situations applying a municipalities zoning ordinance is not just. The injustice could deprive you the landowner your rights under the US and State Constitutions. To avoid that, the Municipal Land Use Law provides the Zoning Board with the power to provide (variances) to adjust the regulations, consistent with fairness or good planning principles. Contact us today if you are getting ready to explore new use and/or development of your land. Our experienced attorneys will help guide you through this process.

New Jersey’s Municipal Land Use Law

  • To encourage municipal action to guide the appropriate use or development of all lands in this State, in a manner which will promote the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare;
  • To secure safety from fire, flood, panic and other natural and man-made disasters;
  • To provide adequate light, air and open space;
  • To ensure that the development of individual municipalities does not conflict with the development and general welfare of neighboring municipalities, the county and the State as a whole;
  • To promote the establishment of appropriate population densities and concentrations that will contribute to the well-being of persons, neighborhoods, communities and regions and preservation of the environment;
  • To encourage the appropriate and efficient expenditure of public funds by the coordination of public development with land use policies;
  • To provide sufficient space in appropriate locations for a variety of agricultural, residential, recreational, commercial and industrial uses and open space, both public and private, according to their respective environmental requirements in order to meet the needs of all New Jersey citizens;
  • To encourage the location and design of transportation routes which will promote the free flow of traffic while discouraging location of such facilities and routes which result in congestion or blight;
  • To promote a desirable visual environment through creative development techniques and good civic design and arrangement;
  • To promote the conservation of historic sites and districts, open space, energy resources and valuable natural resources in the State and to prevent urban sprawl and degradation of the environment through improper use of land;
  • To encourage planned unit developments which incorporate the best features of design and relate the type, design and layout of residential, commercial, industrial and recreational development to the particular site;
  • To encourage senior citizen community housing construction;
  • To encourage coordination of the various public and private procedures and activities shaping land development with a view of lessening the cost of such development and to the more efficient use of land;
  • To promote utilization of renewable energy resources; and
  • To promote the maximum practicable recovery and recycling of recyclable materials from municipal solid waste through the use of planning practices designed to incorporate the State Recycling Plan goals and to complement municipal recycling programs.
  • The municipal agency shall hold a hearing on each application for development or amendment of the master plan
  • The municipal agency shall make the rules governing such hearings.
  • Any maps and documents for which approval is sought at a hearing shall be on file and available for public inspection at least 10 days before the date of the hearing, during normal business hours in the office of the administrative officer.
  • The applicant may produce other documents, records, or testimony at the hearing to substantiate or clarify or supplement the previously filed maps and documents.
  • The officer presiding at the hearing shall have power to administer oaths and issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of relevant evidence, including witnesses and documents presented by the parties
  • The testimony of all witnesses relating to an application for development shall be taken under oath or affirmation by the presiding officer
  • The right of cross-examination shall be permitted to all interested parties through their attorneys, if represented, or directly, if not represented, subject to the discretion of the presiding officer and to reasonable limitations as to time and number of witnesses
  • Technical rules of evidence shall not be applicable to the hearing, but the agency may exclude irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitious evidence
  • The municipal agency shall provide for the verbatim recording of the proceedings by either stenographer, mechanical or electronic means
  • The municipal agency shall furnish a transcript, or duplicate recording in lieu thereof, on request to any interested party at his expense
  • The municipal agency shall include findings of fact and conclusions based thereon in each decision on any application for development and shall reduce the decision to writing.
  • The municipal agency shall provide the findings and conclusions through:
    • A resolution adopted at a meeting held within the time period provided in the act for action by the municipal agency on the application for development; or
    • A memorializing resolution adopted at a meeting held not later than 45 days after the date of the meeting at which the municipal agency voted to grant or deny approval.
    • Only the members of the municipal agency who voted for the action taken may vote on the memorializing resolution, and the vote of a majority of such members present at the meeting at which the resolution is presented for adoption shall be sufficient to adopt the resolution.
    • The vote on any such resolution shall be deemed to be a memorialization of the action of the municipal agency and not to be an action of the municipal agency; however, the date of the adoption of the resolution shall constitute the date of the decision for purposes of the mailings, filings and publications
    • If the municipal agency fails to adopt a resolution or memorializing resolution any interested party may apply to the Superior Court for an order compelling the municipal agency to reduce its findings and conclusions to writing
  • A copy of the decision shall be mailed by the municipal agency within 10 days of the date of decision to the applicant
  • A copy of the decision shall also be filed by the municipal agency in the office of the administrative officer.
  • A brief notice of the decision shall be published in the official newspaper of the municipality, if there be one, or in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality.
  • The period of time in which an appeal of the decision may be made shall run from the first publication of the decision, whether arranged by the municipality or the applicant.

Contact us today if you are getting ready to explore new use and/or development of your land. Our experienced attorneys will help guide you through this process.

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