AIA NJ Leaders participate in the Municipal Land Use Law RE-FORUM Meeting on May 19,2017

September 6, 2017

Presentation of Compendium of Notes

from MLUL RE-FORUM Meeting on May 19, 2017 

to the West Orange Township Council

by Jerome Leslie Eben, FAIA, PP, jlebenaia@gmail.com

 

The Hon. Joe Krakoviak, West Orange Township Council President recently invited AIA NJ Past President Jerome Eben, FAIA to speak on the Municipal Land Use Law Re-Forum. Organized by the NJ Chapter of the American Planning Association this past May, AIA NJ was one of many sponsors. Jerry talked about this extremely informative event and a follow up meeting in July that he attended with President Ben Lee, AIA.

Jerry explained to the Council, Hon. Robert Parisi, Mayor and about 75 members of the public that along with many of his colleagues, we have long known that the  zoning in this New Jersey is broken and has been for a very long time.  He explained that AIA-NJ had a decade ago, given thought to the problem, as well as a name, calling it:

 

“Zoning Ridiculousness”

 

Jerry spoke of the lack of intelligent planning throughout New Jersey’s 565 municipalities.  Highlighting that this is especially critical in areas along common border lines.   Despite the apparent fact that individual Master Plans declare that the so called intelligent planning exists between these communities, in truth it does not.
This is the consensus of the many professionals who have the chore of navigating the MLUL on behalf of their clients.  He explained that the costs both the clients and in turn (alphabetically) architects, attorneys, engineers, planners and sometimes many other consultants in appearing before municipal regulatory boards, is out of control.

In a very general way, what came out of the RE-FORUM meeting was the following important QUESTION:

How can we enhance and update the MLUL to reflect 21st century planning advancements, recognize the diversity of conditions across municipalities, create an efficient, value-driven review process, and ensure development and preservation outcomes that support shared statewide priorities of prosperity, environmental stewardship, affordability, mobility, public health & safety, quality places and sustainable design?

 

The meeting organizers recommended attendance by experienced practitioners, decision-makers and opinion leaders.  There were well over 150 participants to share their vision for how the MLUL could be updated to authorized the use of invocative planning tools in NJ communities. The goal would be to PREVENT internal inconsistencies between Master Plans, Zoning Ordinances and re-examination reports that in fact confound the for mentioned professionals, not to mention the public.

The Compendium of Notes from this program reflect the highlights from twenty-eight (28) Breakout Sessions.  Over fifty (50) pages of records have been placed on the association’s web page.  They reflect the general opinions from those who participated in these sessions.  

Click here to read the entire report.
Because of a time constraint, Jerry addressed only a few of the items, but he tells us they were those close to his long time push to get enforcement under control, make sure contents of the Master Plan include detailed points to review on the zoning ordinances and that it would be helpful to professionals appearing before these boards if the volunteer board members were better educated and prepared by visiting the proposed sites prior to their actual meeting.

 

He also mentioned that it is extremely important for Zoning Officers to be a trained in Planning and Zoning issues and State certified with followed up mandatory continuing education credits!  

 

Lastly, he spoke of the support of non-automobile mobility options………SAFE STREETS ARE A MUST and ordinances on paper need to be applied to all applicants with strict enforcement.

 

The Re-Forum committee meets again in September. Ben and Jerry will be present and promise their fellow members of AIA NJ a follow up to where hopefully this will lead all of us to the removal of Zoning Ridiculousness in our State.

 

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