NJ SENATORS: THE PUBLIC DESERVES EARLIER NOTICE BEFORE LAND USE APPLICATIONS ARE HEARD

State law in New Jersey requires planning and zoning board applicants to notify property owners within 200 feet of their property of their application to the land use board. The applicants publish these notices in major neighbors. They also send them in the mail to the nearby property owners.


Current state law requires the applicants to place the notices in the mailbox 10 days prior to the public hearing.


In Lakewood, the Zoning Board meets on Monday night and the Planning Board meets on Tuesday. Therefore, many of the notices - which are sent via Certified Mail - initially arrive in the mail over Shabbos and are then redelivered on Monday because the Certified Mail requires the resident to sign for delivery.


Bipartisan legislation would further protect New Jerseyans by extending the time required for public notice of land use applications to 21 days from the current 10.


The bill (S-2435) is sponsored by Senator Anthony M. Bucco (R-25) and Senator Joe Cryan (D-20).


The bill was introduced in the Senate on May 9, and it currently awaits consideration from the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.


Senator Bucco says that with the bill's "growing bipartisan suppor", he is hopeful legislative leadership will move forward with his bill to help residents keep up to date with potential real estate development in their communities.


“Too often, entire neighborhoods are altered forever by large developments that effect traffic patterns, environmental conditions, and the quality of life, and these changes are approved before residents even know what hit them,” Senator Bucco said. “Ten days isn’t enough time for families to organize, consider the ramifications, and respond in any capacity.


“People deserve adequate notice to participate in the process. This legislation would ensure those who will be most impacted by projects won’t be blindsided and can have their voices heard,” continued Bucco.


The Township of Morris, on May 18, adopted a resolution supporting S-2435 and urging elected representatives in the State Senate to support its passage.


“People have a right to know what’s going on in their own neighborhoods,” said Senator Cryan (D-Union). “By increasing the public notice period from 10 days to 21 days, residents and local entities will have a more adequate opportunity to participate in the process.”


The Morris Township resolution noted that the New Jersey League of Municipalities voted in 2019 “to support and encourage the introduction of a state bill … to require applicants to send written notice of a public hearing postmarked at least 21 days prior to the scheduled public hearing.”


“No one deserves to be kept in the dark when it comes to development projects that have the potential to drastically impact their daily lives,” said Morris Township Mayor Mark Gyorfy. “Providing greater clarity to residents in advance of pending development hearings will empower communities to better-shape what the future holds for their towns.”


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