Under the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law (“MLUL”) a site plan is defined as a development approval for one or more lots that shows the location of existing and proposed buildings, driveways, sidewalks, drainage facilities, utility services, landscaping, lighting and signage. The actual details required in any site plan are set by individual municipalities through the adoption of local ordinances. However, the MLUL requires local ordinances to address matters such as the construction of streets; the installation of utilities; the reservation of open space; flood control measures; recycling; and protection of potable water supplies.
There are two types of site plans, a major and minor. A minor site plan is one that meets the requirements established by the local ordinance for a minor site plan and does not involve a planned development. Generally, a minor site plan is smaller in size and scope. Any plan that does not satisfy the standards for a minor site plan is automatically designated as a major site plan. This distinction is important, for many municipalities do not require notice or a public hearing for a minor site plan application. Consequently, an applicant can save considerable time and money.
A planning board has jurisdiction to hear and decide site plan applications, although in some limited instances that responsibility may lie with a board of adjustment. If the proposed site plan satisfies all of the applicable requirements, the planning board must approve the application.
A planning board can grant either preliminary or final site plan approval. A preliminary approval offers the developer assurances that the terms and conditions of the approval will not be changed for a period of three (3) years. If the developer believes he will need additional time, he is permitted to request two (2) one-year extensions of the preliminary approval. Anytime during the initial time for the preliminary approval and any extension granted thereafter, the developer may file an application seeking final site plan approval. Final site plan approval offers protection from any changes to the terms and conditions of the approval for an additional two (2) years, although the developer can petition the planning board for three (3) one-year extensions.
Often times, a developer's proposed site plan does not meet the dimensional standards established by a municipality's zoning ordinances. Most municipalities in New Jersey have established zoning parameters that regulate lot size; front, side and rear yard setbacks; height; and parking. If a developer is unable to satisfy these requirements, he must include a request for bulk variance relief with his site plan application. A planning board's decision to grant bulk variance relief is guided by the requirements established in Section 70(c) of the MLUL.
If you or someone you know is intending to appear before a Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment in New Jersey for site plan approval and needs representation, please call Lavery, Selvaggi & Cohen, P.C. at 908-852-2600 or contact us online. Our lawyers have decades of experience in representing applicants before land use boards throughout New Jersey.