The Zoning Board of Adjustment reviews applications that propose utilization of properties that aren’t consistent with municipal zoning laws. This organization previews applications for variances and, from there, is empowered to grant exceptions to zoning ordinances in cases where the enforcement of the zoning laws would cause hardship or injustice. These non-permitted uses are based upon the zoning ordinances established by the borough. It is the Board’s chief goal to preserve the safety and welfare of the community by conserving property value and encouraging appropriate use of land.
Buildings of various types are limited to specific zones. These zones are regulated with respect to category, nature, and use, along with specific plot sizes, required building setbacks, lot coverage, and other regulations. An applicant must meet specific criteria contained in the Municipal Land Use Laws by satisfying specific legal proof standards. This burden of proof is placed upon the applicant to demonstrate that the requested relief is justified without impinging upon the rights of others. Some items to consider when requesting a variance are special reason, benefits, negative criteria and hardship. Applicants are not automatically entitled to a variance.
Zoning laws require that notice be served on all property owners within 200 feet of the applicant’s property, and must be either hand delivered or sent by Certified Mail. The law also requires this notice to be published in a local newspaper at least ten days prior to the hearing date. These notification forms alert neighbors that a variance is being requested, so all interested citizens have an opportunity to attend and be heard at the public meeting.
A Board of Adjustment meeting is a formal session where action is taken. Applicants and witnesses are sworn in, the meeting is recorded on tape, and a Recording Secretary keeps an official record of testimony. Individuals have a choice to either present their own application before the Board or be represented by an attorney. Contrastingly, all corporations must be represented by an attorney.
Members of the Board are resident volunteers appointed by the Mayor, with the advice and consent of the Council. They are assisted in their deliberations by the Board Attorney and Borough Engineer, whose opinions are considered by the Board in its deliberations.