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Seeking a Zoning Variance

Land Use & Zoning Defense Wednesday, August 12, 2020

NJ Land Use Variance

When you work in commercial and/or residential real estate development in New Jersey, you know that issues over land use are almost expected with each and every project. Many of the clients that we here at the Weiner Law Group LLP have worked with in the past have seen such questions lead to accusations of zoning violations being made against them. This often prompts the question of whether there are circumstances in which land can be developed contrary to local zoning guidelines. The answer to that question is yes, yet only if it is done the right way.

That way is spelt out in Section 40:55D-70 of New Jersey’s state statutes. Here it says that the state Board of Adjustment has the authority to grant a variance from the strict application of zoning regulations in the following situations:

  • The property you are considering is exceptionally narrow, shallow, or happens to be in a unique shape
  • The property you are considering includes unique physical features or topographic conditions that could affect its use
  • The strict application of local zoning guidelines would result in peculiar and exceptional practical difficulties or undue hardship on you as a developer

Typically, proving an undue hardship requires more than showing that your proposed use of the land would increase its value. Rather, you usually have to show that enforcing current zoning regulations would limit a legal right to exercise the privileges of ownership over a property in some way.

After having been granted a variance from zoning guidelines, you can use that information to answer any objections that local businesses or homeowners have over its use. More information on understanding zoning laws and appeal processes can be found here on our site.