Understanding New Jersey Zoning Laws

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Jun 08, 2021

Zoning Laws and Municipal Ordinances

Before starting with any real estate or land development project in New Jersey, it is essential to understand the state's zoning laws. In New Jersey, each municipality is permitted to establish its own building and land use laws, often called municipal zoning ordinances. Having rules that differ from one municipality to the next can make the application process to gain approvals and construction permits overwhelming for many individuals.

Additionally, suppose you would like to develop property, start a business, or create or alter an existing a commercial or residential building or home. In that case, you may be required to apply for a "variance" if the land, structure or proposed use conflicts with the municipality's zoning ordinances. Throughout the process, multiple applications and approvals may be necessary to ensure the project is lawfully completed.  

Why Do Zoning Laws Exist?

What is the point of zoning laws? Generally, these laws serve the basic function of dividing a municipality into three types of districts or zones: residential, commercial, and industrial. The goal is to keep each zone relatively homogenous – for instance, you cannot build a residential apartment complex in the middle of an industrial zone. These laws are designed to protect the health and safety of residents.  But they also can create obstacles that would prevent an individual or business from using the property as they want or building as they desire because they are unfamiliar or overwhelmed by the variance process.  

What is Involved in the Variance Process?

A variance application must conform to the requirements of that municipality and will often include professionals, including an architect, engineers, planners, and other experts who may be called on to speak before municipal land use Board. It is wise, and may even be required to have an attorney appear with you for these hearings.  At Hartmann Law, we will work hard to find a solution that works for you, and we will explain it in a way that you can understand.

Contact Hartmann Law LLC

Municipal Zoning Ordinances can be complex.  They can vary from municipality to municipality, and they can change from time to time as may be deemed necessary.  If you have questions or concerns about how zoning laws could impact your New Jersey real estate, business or land development project, contact Hartmann Law for a consultation. We can help you determine your best next steps. The sooner you have a plan of action, the better your chances of getting the results you want.

About the Author


Angela Rich Hartmann is a New Jersey attorney serving clients in the areas of estate, business, and real estate law.