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Knowing the basics of zoning and land use regulations

Whether you are an individual or a business, navigating the local zoning regulations for a new project or expansion can be challenging. Many details are involved and even the most sophisticated developer can overlook them.

Cities regulate and restrict zones to control property developed within their borders. New Jersey follows the Municipal Land Use Law while delegating zone regulations. The elected City Council or Township committee introduces and adopts zoning orders and citizens may propose the changes they see fit.

What are zoning regulations?

Zoning serves the purpose of dividing a city into zones, or residential, commercial, and industrial districts. These regulations will include the specific requirements as to the type of building allowed in the area, the location of utility lines, and other characteristics. This may also limit lot area, and in historic areas, will require the preservation of historic or cultural features.

Limits on zoning regulations

Land-use and zoning regulations can be quite controversial because they may limit the owners' options for a property. The scope and limits of such regulations is hard to define with specificity. Courts permit zoning regulations that are rational and not subjective.

Challenges to zoning regulations

Zoning orders must be sensible based on all factors involved, such as its relation to public health, safety, comfort, morals and general welfare. The need of the city, the purpose of the restriction and the physical characteristics of the land should also factor in.

In many jurisdictions, there are specific boards of zoning appeals to handle restrictions built entirely on race or occupancy of property. These boards can conduct hearings in situations subject to court review. No matter where you are in your development or expansion process, legal assistance can do no harm.

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