Passaic County New Jersey

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Planning and Zoning

About the Department

The Planning and Zoning Department is the municipal office of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment. As such it is responsible for the processing of applications for development, subdivision, site plan, and variance. The duties and responsibilities of the department and the boards are governed by the Municipal Land Use Law, Chapter 291, Laws of New Jersey, 1975, and the Township ordinances Chapter 134, Zoning, and Planning & Development Regulations (the Land Development Ordinance). The Department works closely with other Township Departments such as Building, Engineering, Public Works, Health, Tax Assessor, Parks and Recreation, and Legal, as well as the Economic Development Commission. The offices of the Township Affordable Housing Administrator, the Community Development Block Grant Administrator, and the Housing Rehabilitation/Housing Improvement Program Coordinator are also located in the Planning and Zoning Department.

Master Plan

A Master Plan balances the desires against the needs of the community. It respects the natural resources: the lakes, the hills, the trees. It projects a proper relationship between residences, businesses, industries, and parks, thus laying the foundation for the economic, social, and recreational character of the Township. The Master Plan is the vision; our ordinances, the way they are written and enforced, are the reality.

The comprehensive Master Plan is the Planning Board’s most important tool in guiding the physical environment. The Township of Wayne prepared its last comprehensive Master Plan revision in 1978 and adopted reexamination reports in 1982 and 1988. Also in 1988, a Master Plan Policy Report was prepared which recommended significant changes to the Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance. The 1988 Master Plan Reexamination Report confirmed the need for a revised Master Plan to reflect the recommendations set forth in the Master Plan Policy Report. These past planning documents have been reviewed in the preparation of the 1994 Wayne Township Master Plan.

The Wayne Township Master Plan, which provides a framework for the future development, redevelopment, and preservation of the Township was prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Municipal Land Use Law, Chapter 291, Laws of New Jersey, 1975. It includes a land-use plan, circulation plan, community facilities plan, conservation plan, utility service plan, and economic plan. The Land Use Plan provides the basis for the revised Zoning Map and Ordinance. Other components of the Master Plan are used to determine funding priorities for capital improvements for community facilities, transportation, and utility systems. The Conservation Plan determines which lands should be protected or conserved. Finally, the Master Plan can be used as a guide to making decisions on individual development applications.

Planning Board

The Planning Board was created by ordinance in 1945. All revisions, amendments, and changes to the Zoning Ordinance are reviewed by this board, and recommendations are passed on to the Township Council. The Planning Board classifies and approves new subdivisions and gives final approval on all site plans. A public hearing is required by law before either a minor or major subdivision is approved. A performance bond is required of builders to guarantee satisfactory completion of improvements set forth by the Township Engineer. When the performance bond is satisfied, it converts to a 10% maintenance bond. The fee is refunded after a successful hearing before the Council and the property owners.

The Planning Board has nine members: the mayor, one council member, one township official other than a council member, and six citizens appointed by the mayor and approved by the council. All members serve without compensation. The Town Planner, the Township Engineer, and the Planning Board attorney attend all regular meetings.

Regular meetings of the Planning Board are generally held on the second and fourth Monday of every month at 7:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building.

Zoning Board of Adjustment

Zoning is the most important legal means for making the Master Plan a reality. It establishes controls for land uses and building. The Zoning Board of Adjustment is a Board that has the power to modify the law but not change it. By statute a Zoning Board is a quasi-judicial body and is granted four separate powers:

  1. To hear and decide appeals where it is alleged that there is an error in any order or decision of an administrative official based on enforcement of the zoning ordinance.
  2. To hear and decide requests for special exceptions or for interpretation of the map or for decisions upon other special questions upon which the board is authorized to by this ordinance to pass.
  3. To grant variances (without impairing the intent or purpose of the zone plan and zoning ordinance) where the withholding of such will inflict hardship.
  4. To grant variances in particular cases and for special reasons to allow a structure or use in a district restricted against such use or structure.

The board is comprised of seven regular members and up to four alternate members. All members must be citizens of the Township. Members of the Board are appointed by the Township Council for staggered four-year terms; alternates are appointed for two-year terms. Members may hold no elective office or position under the municipality. All meetings of the Board are open to the public and its minutes and other records are filed in the Board’s office as public record. All members serve without compensation. The Township Planner, the Director of Public Works, and the Board attorney attend all regular meetings.

Regular meetings of the Board of Adjustment are held on the first and third Mondays of every month at 7:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building. Monday holidays may change the schedule; please check the calendar.