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Obtaining Zoning Information

Obtaining Zoning Information & Guidance

The first point of contact with the municipality is generally the Zoning Officer (Development Enforcement Officer). He or she should be able to offer preliminary guidance about the potential of your project’s meeting the local zoning code. The first and possible most important question is: “Is your proposed use permitted in the zoning district in which your lot is situated?”

Many municipalities have their zoning maps and ordinances available on the municipal website. Links to most municipal websites are available through the New Jersey League of Municipalities website – If these are unavailable online, one can generally view or purchase them at the office of the Municipal Clerk.

Gaining approval for a project whose use is not permitted is one of the most difficult hurdles to cross. 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.

If your development will require a use variance, you may wish to look for a new site. If you don’t need a use variance–or have the resources to pursue a high-risk venture–you may proceed to preliminary design. At this time it is advisable to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in land use matters. If you believe that you need a use variance, you should not proceed any further unless you are represented by competent legal counsel.

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