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NJ bill locking in zoning advances in Senate; could halt local historic designations

February 5, 2010

Community efforts to protect historic neighborhoods through historic district designation could be halted if proposed legislation is enacted.

Yesterday a NJ Senate Committee approved a controversial bill that would allow builders to lock-in the local zoning on a particular property for several years merely by filing an application for development.  Taking a sledgehammer to a problem that calls for careful surgery, the measure, if enacted, could prevent a municipality from establishing a historic district if a developer – years away from a viable or realistic project – merely files an application for development in the historic area.

“This legislation discourages smart growth, undermines sound planning strategies, and is not in the best interest of the public,” said William Dressel, executive director of the League of Municipalities, in opposing the bill before the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

Sponsored by Sens. Jeff Van Drew (Cape May) and Ron Rice (Newark), chair and vice-chair respectively of  the Senate Community & Urban Affairs Committee, the bill passed that committee on Thursday.  See more information in the Star Ledger.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. David Frizell permalink
    February 6, 2010 11:05 am

    I testified in favor of this bill obo the New Jersey State Bar Assn, Diane Brake testified in favor obo PlanSmart. The bill is long overdue. It simply provides that the rules cannot change after the game has started, an abuse all too common in NJ towns, that makes for a great deal of waste and encourages local corruption. It does not address historic preservation. It does address fundemental fairness, and encourages foresight and planning at the local level.

  2. Rob permalink
    February 20, 2010 4:17 pm

    Seems that this is so vague, a letter to a municipal official indicating some vague intent to develop a property someday in the future would freeze the zoning forever. So some disgruntled owner who hears of an effort to establish a local historic district could exempt him/herself from a subsequent historic district designation. Doesn’t this constitute a form of spot zoning? We’ll have checkerboard zoning all over the state, making a mockery of planning. Bad idea.

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