Zoning and its impact on land use in New Jersey

Readers of this New Jersey legal blog may have noticed that like properties are often situated near each other. For example, single family homes may all be grouped together in neighborhoods, while factories and manufacturing facilities may all be located on the outskirts of communities. Businesses, restaurants, and centers of commerce may all be located in central locations that are accessible by individuals from different parts of town.

The situation of like properties near each other is not an accident. City planning and zoning determine where certain residences and businesses can be located. In particular, zoning concerns the acceptable use of a property based on what its governing municipality has decided it can be used for.

Different zones may be used for different purposes. Land may be zoned as residential, and in such zones businesses and farms may not be built. Commercial zoning may be used for shops and restaurants, and in some cases residential-commercial zones may be created in order to support live-work spaces. Agricultural zones support farms and other similar businesses.

In some cases it is possible for a land owner to seek a variance in order to receive permission to use their land in a nonconforming manner. Not all requests for variances are approved, and therefore individuals who are interested in purchasing land should know exactly what zoning regulations they will be forced to follow if they acquire certain parcels. This post offers general information on the topic of zoning, and readers should not use it as legal guidance. Specific advice on land use matters should be sought from knowledgeable local attorneys.

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