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Land use and municipal zoning in New Jersey

Developers purchasing vacant land in New Jersey could find themselves negotiating with local zoning boards. As explained by the Rutgers University Center for Government Services website, local approvals may reflect a required first step in launching a building project. New Jersey’s Municipal Land Use Law authorizes each municipality in the Garden State to evaluate and regulate its own resources.

The MLUL gives municipalities the power to establish their own planning boards and codify members’ roles. Boards may adopt their own rules for subdividing vacant land and regulating the properties’ usage.

Boards may establish rules and determine who builds

Planning boards may identify their resources and designate tracts for specific purposes. Common land use includes development for residential housing or community facilities. New Jersey’s Supreme Court, however, has held in its opinions that municipal planning boards may conserve local property by rezoning it to forbid development, as noted by

Under the MLUL, local planning boards may create and enforce ordinances that developers must follow. As reported by, planning or zoning boards review and approve projects before developers start construction. The board’s decisions help shape a municipality’s future, which may include its landscape and how much tax revenue the town collects.

Local regulations could affect the approval process

The Freehold Borough Planning Board, for example, has a Master Plan and members may work with developers to see that projects meet the borough’s standards. Board members may refer to the local rules and approve or reject buildings involving subdivisions. Developers submit their plans to the board and discuss revisions so that projects fit within the borough’s Master Plan.

Before buying property, conducting due diligence regarding the local board’s land plans helps determine whether a project could succeed. If developers require a variance or zoning changes, an application submitted to the local planning board may require detailed proposals.