Planning Board Responsibilities

Duties of the Planning Board under the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL)

Under New Jersey Law, the Planning Board has rather broad responsibilities beginning with the development of a vision of how the municipality should be developed to offering guidance to the governing body about the merits of proposed ordinances to review of applications for site plans and subdivisions as enumerated below.

Prepare the Master Plan

The planning board may prepare and, after public hearing, adopt or amend a master plan to guide the use of lands within the municipality in a manner which protects public health and safety and promotes the general welfare. The land use element of the master plan will become the basis for the local zoning ordinance.

Subdivision Control and Site Plan Review

The governing body may, by ordinance, require the approval of subdivision plats and site plans by resolution of the planning board. One- and two-family dwellings are exempt from the requirement for site plan approval. In cases where a type “d” variance is required, the zoning board will have jurisdiction over site plan and subdivision approval.

The standards for subdivision and site plan approval must be established in the land use or zoning ordinance. The State of New Jersey has established Residential Site Improvement Standards that supersede local ordinances for residential development projects.

Zoning Ordinance

Whenever the governing body wishes to adopt or change any provision of the land use ordinance, it must seek comments from the planning board. Prior to adoption the governing body must review the planning board’s recommendations. The governing body may vote to override the planning board’s recommendations, but a larger number of votes may be required.

Variances and Conditional Use Approval

When the planning board is reviewing an application for subdivision or site plan approval, it may also grant relief from the zoning ordinance requirements, such as:

  • Variances pursuant to NJSA 40:55D-70 c., generally known as bulk variances.
  • Permission to build on a lot without street frontage.
  • Conditional use authorization, when specifically required by the zoning ordinance.

They may not hear applications requiring relief from NJSA 40:55D-70 d. These responsibilities are reserved for the board of adjustment.

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