Question from Mike, How Does a Zoning Board in New Jersey Evaluate an Application for a Use Variance for an Inherently Beneficial Use?
Answer from AI:
In New Jersey, zoning boards evaluate applications for use variances for inherently beneficial uses based on a set of criteria established by state law and court decisions. An inherently beneficial use is a use that is universally considered of value to the community because it fundamentally serves the public good, such as a hospital, school, or public housing facility.
Criteria for Evaluation
The New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) and the New Jersey Supreme Court case, Sica v. Board of Adjustment of Wall, provide the framework for evaluating these applications. The process generally involves the following steps:
- Identifying the Use: The board first determines whether the proposed use is indeed inherently beneficial. This is typically a use that broadly serves the public welfare.
- Applying the Positive and Negative Criteria: The applicant must satisfy both the positive and negative criteria. The positive criteria require showing that the variance will advance the purposes of zoning as outlined in the MLUL. The negative criteria require demonstrating that the variance can be granted without substantial detriment to the public good and will not substantially impair the intent and purpose of the zone plan and zoning ordinance.
- Applying the Balancing Test: If the applicant satisfies both criteria, the board then applies a balancing test, weighing the positive and negative impacts of the proposed use.
When Legal Advice Might Be Necessary
Applying for a use variance for an inherently beneficial use can be a complex process. It may be necessary to consult with a legal professional who is familiar with New Jersey’s zoning laws and procedures. They can help you understand the requirements, gather necessary documentation, and present a compelling case to the zoning board.
Remember, this information is a general guide and may not apply to your specific situation. Always consult with a legal professional for personalized advice.