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  • NJ A4746
  • Modifies requirements for preliminary site plans and subdivisions under Municipal Land Use Law.
Introduced
(3/20/2017)
In Committee
(3/20/2017)
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill amends the "Municipal Land Use Law" (MLUL), P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-1), to clarify the approval process for site plans and subdivisions, specifically to distinguish between the requirements applicable to preliminary and final approvals, consistent with the Legislature's original intent. The two-step preliminary/final approval process under the MLUL was instituted to provide developers of significant projects the ability to receive preliminary approval of proposed development projects based upon a board's review of plans in tentative form. The two-step process enables a developer to secure approval of the general terms and conditions of a proposed project before incurring the costs of providing detailed plans and specifications. A grant of preliminary approval provides a developer with a period of protection from changes to the general terms and conditions on which the preliminary approval was granted. This period of protection affords a developer security and time to assemble and submit expensive detailed plans and specifications that are required for final approval. Unfortunately, in many municipalities the application process for preliminary site plan and subdivision approval has evolved to the point where detailed plans, specifications, and engineering data are often required at the preliminary stage. When developers are forced to incur the significant costs of preparing and submitting detailed engineering plans at this early, preliminary, stage of the approval process, they become reluctant to change their proposals, in response to comments and requests from planning board members and members of the public, due to the costs associated with redesigning their plans. By reevaluating the two-step process, and clearly distinguishing the critical components needed for preliminary approval from the more involved and detailed information required for final approval, this bill intends to enable applicants to secure preliminary approval of the overall layout of a proposed site plan or subdivision before incurring the expense of preparing detailed engineering plans, specifications, and analyses. This change is meant to reduce the possibility of animosity between applicants, boards, and the general public, by positioning applicants to be more receptive to revise their plans in response to public opinion and comments from planning board members. Specifically, the bill provides that a planning board's review of an application for development for preliminary approval of a site plan would be limited to the following criteria: · the layout and arrangement of proposed buildings, streets, parking, and other proposed site improvements; and · compliance with the use, density, floor area ratio, height, and other zoning standards applicable to the zoning district. Similarly, under the bill, a planning board's review of an application for development for preliminary approval of a subdivision would be limited to the following criteria: · the layout and arrangement of proposed lots, as well as any proposed streets, parking, known easements, and other proposed site improvements; and · compliance with the use, density, and other zoning standards applicable to the zoning district. The bill requires developers to include requests for any "C" variances from zoning ordinance provisions governing these criteria in their applications for preliminary approval. The bill allows developers to include requests for other "C" variances in their applications for preliminary approval, or to defer those variance requests until final approval. The bill defers review relative to assessment of contributions for off-tract improvements until final approval. The bill details the documents and information that an applicant for preliminary approval of a site plan or subdivision may be required to submit for the application to be considered complete for the planning board's consideration. The bill authorizes planning boards to request additional "reasonably necessary" information, if an application for preliminary approval includes a request for a "C" variance. The bill shortens the period of time within which a board must grant or deny an application for preliminary approval of more extensive projects (site plans involving more than 10 acres or more than 10 dwelling units, and subdivisions of more than 10 lots) from 95 to 75 days after the date on which a complete application for development is submitted. The bill specifies four circumstances that require a developer to submit an application to amend a preliminary approval. A developer must submit an application for development for amended preliminary approval of a site plan if, after the grant of preliminary site plan approval, the developer seeks to: · make any substantial revisions to the layout of improvements; · increase the density for residential development by more than 10 percent or the floor area ratio for nonresidential development by more than 10 percent; · make any change to the site plan that requires a variance from a zoning ordinance governing criteria subject to review in connection with an application for development for preliminary approval; or · make any change to the site plan that affects the basis upon which any variance had been granted. A developer must submit an application for development for amended preliminary approval of a subdivision if, after the grant of preliminary subdivision approval, the developer seeks to: · make any substantial revisions to the layout of improvements; · increase the density for residential development by more than 10 percent; · make any change to the subdivision plat that requires a variance from a zoning ordinance governing criteria subject to review in connection with an application for development for preliminary approval of a subdivision; or · make any change to the subdivision that affects the basis upon which any variance had been granted. The bill provides that a developer may, at its option, submit an application for preliminary approval, or an application to amend a preliminary approval, simultaneous with an application for final approval. In this case, the bill requires a planning board to simultaneously review and act upon the applications for preliminary approval, amended preliminary approval, and final approval. Under the bill, a developer seeking to construct site infrastructure improvements prior to a grant of final approval must specifically request authorization to do so in its application for preliminary approval. Under this circumstance, the bill requires the applicant to submit the required plans and specification for the proposed site infrastructure improvements as well as other information as is reasonably required by the planning board to determine whether the proposed site infrastructure improvements are adequate. A preliminary approval authorizing a developer to construct site infrastructure improvements prior to final approval must specifically so provide in the resolution of approval. To allow sufficient time for completion of the detailed engineering plans and outside agency approvals associated with final approval of subdivisions and site plans, the bill extends the vesting period for preliminary approvals from three years to five years. However, with regard to a preliminary approval that authorizes construction of site improvements prior to final approval, the bill retains the three-year vesting period. The bill would amend the statute governing the standards for final approval of site plans and major subdivisions by requiring a planning board to grant final approval if the detailed drawings, specifications and estimates of the application for final approval: · conform to the standards established by ordinance for final approval; · conform in all material respects with the conditions of preliminary approval; and · in the case of a major subdivision, conform to the statutory requirements for approval or filing of a map. However, the bill provides that, in granting final approval of a site plan or major subdivision, a planning board must: · permit changes to a preliminary approval that do not require the developer to submit an application to amend the preliminary approval; and · consider and may grant requests for "C" variances that may, under the bill, be deferred until final approval. The bill would expand the time within which a board must grant or deny final approval from 45 days to 95 days after submission of a complete application for final approval. The bill specifies that its provisions do not supersede or relieve an applicant from satisfying a county's land development procedures and standards, nor supersede, or relieve a municipal approving authority from complying with, provisions of the County Planning Act, N.J.S.A. 40:27-1 et seq.
Not specified
Introduced, Referred to Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee  (on 3/20/2017)
 
 

Date Chamber Action Description
3/20/2017 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
None specified