Zoning and Planning

Drafting Blueprints

Zoning & Land Use Lawyer

There was a time when an individual had absolute control over the development of his/her land. He/she could build a house anywhere on their lot, subdivide the property into smaller lots, and/or develop their land for commercial purposes. THAT TIME HAS PAST.

The development of real property (land) in the State of New Jersey is now controlled by the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Act, the powers granted to the individual Municipalities and the various Municipal, County and State agencies exercising jurisdiction over the land. These agencies may include such bodies as the Municipal Planning Board, the County Planning Board and/or the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, among others.

The purpose of this Land Use Law was to guide the appropriate use or development of real property in a manner which will promote the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the citizenry and will provide sufficient space in appropriate locations for a variety of residential, recreational, commercial and industrial uses.

Land Use and Zoning

Municipalities prepare a master plan that identifies the existing uses and facilities within their community, and then propose an outline/plan for future growth and development. The Municipalities then approve Zoning Ordinances to create development zones, which establish minimum lot requirements, and identify the uses permitted in each zone. Certain portions of a town might provide for commercial development (typically highway corridors), while other areas might be designated for residential use. Some residential lots may have of minimum size of 10,000 sq. ft. while other lots may be required to have three acres.

Land use and Zoning practice covers a wide array of services such as:

  • Zoning Determinations
  • Bulk Variances
  • Setbacks
  • Use Variances
  • Subdivisions
  • Grading Permits
  • Special Use Permits
  • Site Plan Approvals for Shopping Centers and other Commercial Uses
  • Litigation – Appeals from Local Boards

Any of the above may be applicable depending on your lot size, location and proposed use. Proceeding without an attorney may result in additional delays due to deficient applications, improper notice, or failure to provide the necessary proofs to have your matter approved.

Planning Boards and Zoning Boards

In order to implement these zoning requirements Municipalities created Planning Boards and Zoning Boards to review:

  • Subdivisions applications,
  • Site plans applications, and
  • Variance requests.

The first step in the process of land development is an application to the Zoning Officer of the community in which the client seeks to develop real property.   If the zoning application is approved the client proceeds directly to the construction office for a building permit.

However, in some cases it’s just not that simple. As an example, (a) a client applies to the zoning officer of his/her municipality for a zoning permit to build a six foot high fence in his/her front yard, but is denied because in that town only fences up to four feet high are permitted, or (b) a client owns a twenty acre farm that he/she now wants to subdivide into residential building lots, only to be told that a subdivision requires a formal application be filed.

Members of the Planning Board and Zoning Board are appointed positions without compensation. The Members of these Boards are often your neighbors, members of your local Church, people you have met at PTA meetings, or individuals otherwise active in your community. Most have spent the day at their full time jobs before coming to the scheduled Board meetings during the evening hours.

Attorneys representing clients in matters presented to the Planning Board or Zoning Board of a particular municipality must recognize that these are volunteers who need to have matters presented to them in an orderly and understandable manner. At the same time the application must include sufficient detail to support an appeal (if appropriate) should the Board be unreasonable or capricious in denying an application.

Effective Legal Counsel

This firm handles applications for the approval of backyard swimming pools too close to the rear property line, to major subdivisions and commercial shopping center site plans. This firm can guide you through every step of the process, from concept to conclusion. This firm provides experienced representation for zoning determinations, subdivisions, site plans, bulk variances, use variances, and appeals from local Boards throughout Monmouth County, Middlesex County and Ocean County. Contact us to discuss your legal options.

(732) 264-6000

This information is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice without consulting with a licensed attorney. This is not intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney. The law is subject to frequent changes and varies from one jurisdiction to another. (c) 2021