What Does a Planning Board Do?


The powers and responsibilities of the Planning Board are defined by the Municipal Land Use Law. The following are excerpts from the Municipal Land Use Law (New Jersey Statutes Annotated, Compiled as 40:55D - 1 et. seq. with amendments through the 1995 legislative session, updated October 1996).
40:55D-25. Powers of planning board
16. a. The planning board shall follow the provisions of this act and shall accordingly exercise its power in regard to:
(1) The master plan pursuant to article 3;
(2) Subdivision control and site plan review pursuant to article 6;
(3) The official map pursuant to article 5;
(4) The zoning ordinance including conditional uses pursuant to article 8;
(5) The capital improvement program pursuant to article 4;
(6) Variances and certain building permits in conjunction with subdivision, site plan and conditional use approval pursuant to article 7.
b. The planning board may:
(1) Participate in the preparation and review of programs or plans required by State or federal law or regulation;
(2) Assemble data on a continuing basis as part of a continuous planning process; and
(3) Perform such other advisory duties as are assigned to it by ordinance or resolution of the governing body for the aid and assistance of the governing body or other agencies or officers.
L.1975,c.291,s.16; amended 1985, c.516, s.8; 1991, c.199, s.2; 1994, c.186; 1996, c.113, s.8.
40:55D-23. Planning board membership
14. Planning board membership.
a. The governing body may, by ordinance, create a planning board of seven or nine members. The membership shall consist of, for convenience in designating the manner of appointment, the four following classes:
Class I--the mayor or the mayor's designee in the absence of the mayor or, in the case of the council-manager form of government pursuant to the Optional Municipal Charter Law, P.L.1950, c.210 (C.40:69A-1 et seq.) or "the municipal manager form of government law" (R.S.40:79-1 et seq.), the manager, if so provided by the aforesaid ordinance.
Class II--one of the officials of the municipality other than a member of the governing body, to be appointed by the mayor; provided that if there be an environmental commission, the member of the environmental commission who is also a member of the planning board as required by section 1 of P.L.1968, c.245
(C.40:56A-1), shall be deemed to be the Class II planning board member for purposes of this act in the event that there be among the Class IV or alternate members of the planning board both a member of the zoning board of adjustment and a member of the board of education.
Class III--a member of the governing body to be appointed by it.
Class IV--other citizens of the municipality, to be appointed by the mayor or, in the case of the council-manager form of government pursuant to the Optional Municipal Charter Law, P.L.1950, c.210 (C.40:69A-1 et seq.) or "the municipal manager form of government law" (R.S.40:79-1 et seq.), by the council, if so provided by the aforesaid ordinance.
The members of Class IV shall hold no other municipal office, position or employment, except that in the case of nine-member boards, one such member may be a member of the zoning board of adjustment or historic preservation commission. No member of the board of education may be a Class IV member of the planning board, except that in the case of a nine-member board, one Class IV member may be a member of the board of education. If there be a municipal environmental commission, the member of the environmental commission who is also a member of the planning board, as required by section 1 of P.L.1968, c.245 (C.40:56A-1), shall be a Class IV planning board member, unless there be among the Class IV or alternate members of the planning board both a member of the zoning board of adjustment or historic preservation commission and a member of the board of education, in which case the member common to the planning board and municipal environmental commission shall be deemed a Class II member of the planning board. For the purpose of this section, membership on a municipal board or commission whose function is advisory in nature, and the establishment of which is discretionary and not required by statute, shall not be considered the holding of municipal office.
b. The term of the member composing Class I shall correspond to the mayor's or manager's official tenure, or, if the member is the mayor's designee in the absence of the mayor, the designee shall serve at the pleasure of the mayor during the mayor's official tenure. The terms of the members composing Class II and Class III shall be for one year or terminate at the completion of their respective terms of office, whichever occurs first, except for a Class II member who is also a member of the environmental commission. The term of a Class II or Class IV member who is also a member of the environmental commission shall be for three years or terminate at the completion of his term of office as a member of the environmental commission, whichever occurs first. The term of a Class IV member who is also a member of the board of adjustment or board of education shall terminate whenever he is no longer a member of such other body or at the completion of his Class IV term, whichever occurs first. The terms of all Class IV members first appointed under this act shall be so determined that to the greatest practicable extent the expiration of such terms shall be distributed evenly over the first four years after their appointments; provided that the initial Class IV term of no member shall exceed four years. Thereafter, the Class IV term of each such member shall be four years. If a vacancy in any class shall occur otherwise than by expiration of the planning board term, it shall be filled by appointment, as above provided, for the unexpired term. No member of the planning board shall be permitted to act on any matter in which he has, either directly or indirectly, any personal or financial interest. Any member other than a Class I member, after a public hearing if he requests one, may be removed by the governing body for cause.
L.1975,c.291,s.14; amended 1978,c.37,s.1; 1979,c.216,s.12; 1985,c.516,s.7; 1990,c.130; 1991,c.256,s.4; 1994,c.158.
40:55D-23.1. Alternate members
The governing body may, by ordinance, provide for the appointment to the planning board of not more than two alternate members. Alternate members shall be appointed by the appointing authority for Class IV members, and shall meet the qualifications of Class IV members of nine-member planning boards. Alternate members shall be designated at the time of appointment by the mayor as "Alternate No. 1" and "Alternate No. 2." The terms of the alternate members shall be for 2 years, except that the terms of the alternate members shall be such that the term of not more than one alternate member shall expire in any 1 year; provided, however, that in no instance shall the terms of the alternate members first appointed exceed 2 years. A vacancy occurring otherwise than by expiration of term shall be filled by the appointing authority for the unexpired term only.
No alternate member shall be permitted to act on any matter in which he has either directly or indirectly any personal or financial interest. An alternate member may, after public hearing if he requests one, be removed by the governing body for cause.
Alternate members may participate in discussions of the proceedings but may not vote except in the absence or disqualification of a regular member of any class. A vote shall not be delayed in order that a regular member may vote instead of an alternate member. In the event that a choice must be made as to which alternate member is to vote, Alternate No. 1 shall vote.
L.1979, c. 216, s. 13.
40:55D-24. Organization of planning board
The planning board shall elect a chairman and vice chairman from the members of Class IV, select a secretary who may or may not be a member of the planning board or a municipal employee, and create and fill such other offices as established by ordinance. It may employ, or contract for, and fix the compensation of legal counsel, other than the municipal attorney, and experts, and other staff and services as it may deem necessary, not exceeding, exclusive of gifts or grants, the amount appropriated by the governing body for its use.
L.1975, c. 291, s. 15, eff. Aug. 1, 1976.
40:55D-27. Citizens advisory committee; environmental commission
a. After the appointment of a planning board, the mayor may appoint one or more persons as a citizens' advisory committee to assist or collaborate with the planning board in its duties, but such person or persons shall have no power to vote or take other action required of the board. Such person or persons shall serve at the pleasure of the mayor.
b. Whenever the environmental commission has prepared and submitted to the planning board and the board of adjustment an index of the natural resources of the municipality, the planning board or the board of adjustment shall make available to the environmental commission an informational copy of every application for development submitted to either board. Failure of the planning board or board of adjustment to make such informational copy available to the environmental commission shall not invalidate any hearing or proceeding.
L.1975, c. 291, s. 18, eff. Aug. 1, 1976. Amended by L.1977, c. 49, s. 1, eff. March 29, 1977.
40:55D-65. Contents of zoning ordinance
52. A zoning ordinance may:
a. Limit and restrict buildings and structures to specified districts and regulate buildings and structures according to their type and the nature and extent of their use, and regulate the nature and extent of the use of land for trade, industry, residence, open space or other purposes.
b. Regulate the bulk, height, number of stories, orientation, and size of buildings and the other structures; the percentage of lot or development area that may be occupied by structures; lot sizes and dimensions; and for these purposes may specify floor area ratios and other ratios and regulatory techniques governing the intensity of land use and the provision of adequate light and air, including, but not limited to the potential for utilization of renewable energy sources.
c. Provide districts for planned developments; provided that an ordinance providing for approval of subdivisions and site plans by the planning board has been adopted and incorporates therein the provisions for such planned developments in a manner consistent with article 6 of this act. The zoning ordinance shall establish standards governing the type and density, or intensity of land use, in a planned development. Said standards shall take into account that the density, or intensity of land use, otherwise allowable may not be appropriate for a planned development. The standards may vary the type and density, or intensity of land use, otherwise applicable to the land within a planned development in consideration of the amount, location and proposed use of open space; the location and physical characteristics of the site of the proposed planned development; and the location, design and type of dwelling units and other uses. Such standards may provide for the clustering of development between noncontiguous parcels and may, in order to encourage the flexibility of density, intensity of land uses, design and type, authorize a deviation in various clusters from the density, or intensity of use, established for an entire planned development. The standards and criteria by which the design, bulk and location of buildings are to be evaluated shall be set forth in the zoning ordinance and all standards and criteria for any feature of a planned development shall be set forth in such ordinance with sufficient certainty to provide reasonable criteria by which specific proposals for planned development can be evaluated.
d. Establish, for particular uses or classes of uses, reasonable standards of performance and standards for the provision of adequate physical improvements including, but not limited to, off-street parking and loading areas, marginal access roads and roadways, other circulation facilities and water, sewerage and drainage facilities; provided that section 41 of this act shall apply to such improvements.
e. Designate and regulate areas subject to flooding (1) pursuant to P.L.1972, c.185 (C.58:16A-55 et seq.) or (2) as otherwise necessary in the absence of appropriate flood hazard area designations pursuant to P.L.1962, c.19 (C.58:16A-50 et seq.) or floodway regulations pursuant to P.L.1972, c.185 or minimum standards for local flood fringe area regulation pursuant to P.L.1972, c.185.
f. Provide for conditional uses pursuant to section 54 of this act.
g. Provide for senior citizen community housing.
h. Require as a condition for any approval which is required pursuant to such ordinance and the provisions of this chapter, that no taxes or assessments for local improvements are due or delinquent on the property for which any application is made.
i. Provide for historic preservation pursuant to section 5 of P.L.1991 c.199 (C.40:55D-65.1).
L.1975,c.291,s.52; amended 1979,c.216,s.21; 1980,c.146,s.5; 1985,c.516,s.14; 1991,c.199,s.4; 1995,c.364,s.2.
40:55D-65.1. Zoning ordinance may designate, regulate historic sites, districts
5. A zoning ordinance may designate and regulate historic sites or historic districts and provide design criteria and guidelines therefor. Designation and regulation pursuant to this section shall be in addition to such designation and regulation as the zoning ordinance may otherwise require. Except as provided hereunder, after July 1, 1994, all historic sites and historic districts designated in the zoning ordinance shall be based on identifications in the historic preservation plan element of the master plan. Until July 1, 1994, any such designation may be based on identifications in the historic preservation plan element, the land use plan element or community facilities plan element of the master plan. The governing body may, at any time, adopt, by affirmative vote of a majority of its authorized membership, a zoning ordinance designating one or more historic sites or historic districts that are not based on identifications in the historic preservation plan element, the land use plan element or community facilities plan element, provided the reasons for the action of the governing body are set forth in a resolution and recorded in the minutes of the governing body.
L.1991,c.199,c.5.



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