When you follow the procedures discussed above, your input will have maximum impact on the Public Meeting deliberations.
In many ways, the procedures are similar to courtroom procedures. The chairperson conducts the meeting as a judge might and the Board is comparable to a jury that votes to make a final decision.
All members of the Planning Board are resident volunteers who are appointed by the Mayor and serve in the public interest without compensation. Board members are required to complete a state-mandated training course, which is also available to the public.
Each year, Board members file financial disclosure statements required by the New Jersey Ethics Law with the Municipal Clerk.
When an application is announced by the chairperson, the applicant or his/her attorney comes forward. If the applicant is to provide testimony, he/she introduces him/herself, affirms that his/her testimony will be truthful (while being sworn under oath by the Planning Board Attorney) and then explains the nature of the application. If the applicant is represented by an attorney, the attorney presents the application and, where applicable, the order of the applicant’s expert witnesses. If there are expert witnesses, they will be sworn in before presenting their testimony.
Following the testimony of each witness, the Board will ask questions and seek clarifications needed for an informed review of the application. The chairperson will then ask if there are any questions from the public regarding the testimony.
If you have a question, raise your hand. When the chairperson calls on you, please walk to the microphone. You will then be sworn under oath by the Board Attorney. Please speak clearly into the microphone. All witnesses must state their names and addresses and spell their names before asking a question or making appropriate comments. The public is limited to five minutes per person to ensure adequate time for all speakers for all applications.
Verbal & Written Statements:
Verbal statements from the public should be supportable and not hearsay. The applicant has the right to cross-examine any members of the public who speak. Written statements or letters from individuals who are not present, petitions, or speaking on anyone else’s behalf are not allowable according to New Jersey MLUL. Written statements from the public in favor of or opposing the application cannot be accepted as the Board cannot cross-examine written statements; however, a member of the public may provide the secretary with a written copy of his/her remarks after speaking.
Only the chairperson may decide who speaks at a given time. Comments called out from the audience will not be considered part of the record.
The chairperson has the right to close the public portion of a hearing if he/she feels that the audience is unruly or is making comments that are not relevant to the application. The chairperson also has the right to have any member of the audience removed from the hearing room for unruly display of meeting decorum.
Public Questions & Comments:
The public may comment on applications before the board. The timing of such comment depends on the complexity of the application. In general, less complex applications have one public comment period. More complex applications have public question periods after each expert witness presents testimony, and a general public comment period after the completion of the presentation of the application. When asking a question regarding a specific witness’s testimony, the public may ask a question only about that expert’s testimony. The public may comment on any aspect of the application during the public comment period at the close of the application.
During each Planning and Zoning Board meeting, there shall be a Public Discussion period on which a member of the public may address the Board. Upon recognition by the Board, the person shall proceed to the floor and give their name and address in an audible tone of voice for the records. Unless further time is granted by the Board, they shall strive to limit their statement to five (5) minutes. Statements shall be addressed to the Board as a body and not to any member thereof. No person, other than the Chair and the person having the floor, shall be permitted to enter into any discussion, without recognition by the Chair. A Board member shall not direct any question to a speaker addressing the Board, except through the presiding officer.
Each application will first be reviewed at a public work session that begins at 7:30 pm in the second floor courtroom in Town Hall. The work session allows the Board to review the application for compliance with the requirements of a complete application. Public comment is not permitted at work sessions. The public business meeting follows at 8:00 pm. The chairperson will open the public question and comment section for each application.
Only Planning Boards (not elected governing bodies such as the Borough Council) are charged by law with reviewing and determining non-residential site plans and subdivisions with non-use related variances known as “c” variances. You may obtain a copy of the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law, NJSA, 40:55D-1 et seq. and contact the New Jersey Planning Officials at (908) 412-9592. Approvals or denials of applications may be legally challenged (for instance, in New Jersey Superior Court). Therefore, it is very important that the process laid out in the MLUL be closely followed.
Other Meeting Procedures:
The meeting is recorded using an audio system. However, the applicant may also choose to hire a court reporting service at his or her personal expense. Minutes will be prepared and summarized by the Board’s secretary. Hearings that are not completed at one meeting may be further considered at future meetings. The chairperson will verbally announce that an application is carried to the next meeting.
To confirm a continuation or rescheduling, call the Board office at (973) 835-0143, ext. 241, weekdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
The information and guidelines provided are subject to any changes in the municipal land use law and are subject to any procedures or deviations established by the land use boards to implement the municipal land use law in effect at the time. (These guidelines are for the purpose of assisting interested parties in understanding and participating in the municipal land use process. Each application is unique and deviations from this outline may necessarily occur. Such deviations should not be considered a basis for an argument in any appeals of a decision rendered by the Board.)