Skip to content

What are Planning and Zoning?

Planning and Zoning

Planning and zoning in the State of New Jersey is regulated on a local level. Currently there are 564 separate municipalities in the state. Most of these have their own, locally adopted zoning regulations. The New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1 et seq[A1] ., is the legislation that enables municipalities to establish their own development rules through the adoption of a Zoning Ordinance and a Zoning Map.

The ordinance and map are companion documents that determine what can be built within a municipality. The map shows the limits of each of the zones that have been established by action of the local governing body. The zoning ordinance provides the specifics of what may be built in each zone, such as:

  • Permitted uses (including conditional uses – such as a place of worship in a residential zone)
  • Required lot size and dimensions
  • Allowable building area
  • Allowable building height
  • Required yard setbacks (the distances that a building must be situated away from a lot or street line)
  • Parking requirements
  • And often much more

The land use ordinance provides the procedural requirements for preparation of site plan and subdivision applications.

A site plan application is required for the construction of one or more buildings and their related site improvements on a piece of property. One- and two-family dwellings are currently exempt from the requirements for site plan approval.

A subdivision application is required if one wishes to divide one lot into two or more lots. It may also be required to change the location of a boundary line between existing lots.

The local ordinance will also establish a Planning Board and a Zoning Board of Adjustment to review development applications. In a limited number of municipalities, a combined Planning/Zoning Board is permitted by the Municipal Land Use Law; however, this document is based upon the municipality having separate boards. In municipalities with combined Land Use Boards a single board performs the functions both the Palnning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment. Some board members are excluded from hear applications that would normally be heard by a Zoning Board.

The authority for review of development applications is split between the planning and zoning boards. The type of application and the nature of the approvals required will determine which board will hear your application. You should never need to get approval from more than one of these bodies for a given application.

[A1]You might want to link to the actual text of the law.

<– Previous PageObtaining Zoning Information –>