Zoning Board of Adjustment
About the Zoning Board
The primary responsibility of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, sometimes called the Zoning Board, is to hear and vote on requests for variances or exceptions to our zoning ordinance (Chapter XXV). Additionally, the Zoning Board may review some site plan applications for approval or denial. Other powers of the Board include hearing and deciding on appeal applications of decisions made by an administrative officer, such as the Zoning Officer or Planner; and to interpret the zoning map or zoning ordinance.
The Zoning Board is a quasi-judicial body. It functions similar to, but not as strictly as a court of law, and makes binding legal decisions. The Municipal Land Use Law ("MLUL"), 40:55D; sets forth the statutory law guiding the Zoning Board.
How does the process work?
The Zoning Board hears an application for development after it has been reviewed by the Zoning Officer, Planner or both. The application must be complete, however, a member of the Board has the right to ask for further clarification of parts of the plan.
The Zoning Board acts as a judge and jury. It is a member's responsibility to listen to all testimony, ask questions, decide the facts of a case, apply the law and make an objective decision to approve or deny an application.
An applicant must meet specific criteria contained in the MLUL by satisfying certain legal standards of proof and the burden is upon the applicant to show that he or she is entitled to the specific relief requested. Depending upon the type of variance requested, the applicant will need to prove special reasons, a balancing of the benefits, hardship or the negative criteria. Conditions may also be applied to an approval.
What is the law that guides the Board's decisions?
The Zoning Board of Adjustment hears and decides two kinds of variances, a "C" variance and a "D" variance. Variance means permission to depart from the literal requirements of the zoning ordinance. A variance relate to the future use of the land, it is not intended or authorized to remedy temporary or unique personal situations. A "C" variance is the simplest and can have less significant impact on the zoning of a municipality than a "D" variance.