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Board of Adjustment
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This website provides some downloadable/viewable "PDF file" versions of "Zoning
Review - Short Forms" created and made available by the Zoning Department and contained
on the Online Forms page. Please read carefully the following disclaimer:
This web version of the zoning review short form is for general information and
convenience only. It contains a compilation of some sections of the zoning ordinance
that pertain to most residential permit applications. It also contains citations
to the zoning ordinance. If there are any inconsistencies between this form and
the zoning ordinance, the zoning ordinance as amended shall control. This form is
not suitable for more complicated applications that require a variance or subdivision
or site plan approval.
The up-to-date, definitive versions of the complete ordinance is available online
and at Borough Hall, and should be consulted before proceeding with any project
Zoning is an important and fundamental aspect of any development, from the construction
of a small addition or accessory building on a residential lot to a major subdivision
or commercial site plan. Yet, all too often, to some extent, it is overlooked.
Review Zoning Map Here
Zoning can essentially be divided into three basic categories: Subdivisions,
Site Plans, and Enforcement.
Subdivisions can range from a lot line adjustment between neighbors to a major development.
Most subdivisions proceed before the Planning Board. The Planning Board maintains
jurisdiction of subdivisions regardless of size and including those, which involve
"bulk" variances (i.e. setbacks, lot area, steep slopes, impervious area, etc.).
Subdivisions (and the fees and escrow deposits for same) are broken down into the
following: concept plan, lot line adjustment (minor subdivision for), minor subdivision
or re-subdivision with no variance, minor subdivision or re-subdivision with variance(s),
preliminary major subdivision and final major subdivision. There is an Application
For Subdivisions & Re-Subdivisions form (which includes the fees and escrows) that
must be completed. Most subdivisions proceed before the Planning Board. The Planning
Board maintains jurisdiction of subdivisions regardless of size and including those
which involve "bulk" variances (ie: setbacks, lot area, steep slopes, impervious
However, if a subdivision contains any "use" variance (ie: non-permitted use, floor
area ratio, certain height variances) it would then be within the jurisdiction of
the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Please refer to the description below for the Zoning Board of Adjustment and to the Forms
for applicable applications and instructions.
Site Plans most often involve non-residential uses. Typical applications involve
the construction of, or additions or alterations to a non-residential building,
change of use which requires additional parking on a lot with insufficient parking,
parking lot expansion, etc.. Like subdivisions, most site plans, including those
involving "bulk" variances, are within the jurisdiction of the Planning Board.
Site plans (and the fees and escrow deposits for same) are broken down into the
following: concept plan, minor residential site plan (professional use, accessory
apartments), non-residential site plan review/waiver (facade changes without site
work, building expansion nor variances), minor non-residential site plan, preliminary
major non-residential site plan, final major non-residential site plan, preliminary
major residential site plan and final major residential site plan. There is an Application
For Site Plan form (which includes the fees and escrows) which must be completed.
Like subdivisions, most site plans, including those involving "bulk" variances are
within the jurisdiction of the Planning Board.
Planning Board Checklists to use for reviewing your application are available and
should be used to determine if an application is complete prior to submission to
the Planning Board.
However, any "use" variance puts a site plan within the jurisdiction of the Zoning
Board of Adjustment.
Please refer to the description below for the Zoning Board of Adjustment
and to the Online Forms for applicable applications and instructions.
Residential properties are the most frequent source of zoning review for individual
lot applications in the Borough. These include new homes, additions and accessory
buildings and structures such as detached garages, sheds, pools, pool houses, tennis
courts, etc.. The Zoning Officer has prepared separate forms for each of the seven
(7) most active residential zones.
First you must determine which zone you are in by locating your lot on the Zoning
Map. Then you can go to the appropriate Zoning Review Short Form for a summary of
the applicable zoning requirements. The section numbers in the left margin of the
forms correspond to those in the Zoning Ordinance. The Online Forms page also also
includes links to forms for Non-Tree Removal, and Certification Receipt for Wetlands
Notice. On this page, there is also a sample of a Slope Disturbance Analysis and
the Drywell Standards for the Borough in addition to the Freshwater Wetlands Protection
Act which should be reviewed.
If upon review of the survey/lot development plans and building plans, etc. the
Zoning Officer finds your application in conformance, the application will then
proceed to the Building Department for code review. As you can see, even though
the "Short Forms" are just a summary of the most often needed sections of the Ordinance,
the scope of the regulations are extensive. However, the Zoning Officer must confirm
conformance with the applicable regulations prior to completing his review.
Incomplete applicants will be notified of the deficiencies, which prolongs the review
process. Therefore, it is important for the applicant to address all applicable
provisions by detailed plans and/or attachments.
Non-Residential reviews are more involved, so "short forms" are not available. However,
the Zoning Officer has prepared "Zoning Highlights" for B-1 and C-1 Zones, which
you can review at Borough Hall.
If the Zoning Officer must deny your application, then you can either amend same
to conform to the ordinance or seek a Variance before the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
All single lot variance applications which do not involve a subdivision or site
plan are within the jurisdiction of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, regardless of
the type of variance sought. Please refer to the description below for the Zoning Board of Adjustment and to the Online Forms
for applicable applications and instructions.
Typical examples of violations are: non-permitted use in a building, illegal signs,
overcrowding, commercial vehicles, property maintenance. It is best to call the
Zoning Enforcement Officer at 908-766-3000, Ext. 114, when the alleged offense
is occurring, and provide him with as much detail as possible. This sounds simple,
but all too often a complaint is made relative to an event which took place a week
or more in the past, or a building (for instance a shed) constructed too close to
a property line, after it is completed.
Some infractions reported to the Zoning Department are within the jurisdictions
of other agencies and are best reported directly to the proper enforcing agency
rather than using the zoning office as the "middle-man", which can lead to misinformation
and/or delay in relaying the information to the proper authority.
Below are some examples and relevant contacts:
Some of the appropriate phone numbers for these agencies are indicated below:
The Board of Adjustment, also known as the Zoning Board, is a quasi-judicial entity.
Under the Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL), Chapter 55D of the New Jersey Revised State
Statutes, when a municipality adopts a zoning ordinance, it must also create a Zoning
Board of Adjustment. It is the Board for "non-permitted uses." As such, the Board
of Adjustment deals with the issuance of variances.
Variances are based upon the individual municipality's zoning ordinance. The zoning
ordinance establishes specific requirements for a land area within a municipality
and regulates not only the uses permitted, but the size of the parcels, setbacks
required, parking, signs, conditional uses and numerous other such regulations.
The Board of Adjustment has the power to grant a variance from the Borough ordinances,
The Board may also interpret the zoning ordinance.
The Board may grant site plan or subdivision approvals or conditional use approvals
associated with any of its primary powers.
What is the Zone for my property?
See links to zoning map and zoning review short forms. Please call office if uncertain.
How do I obtain an Application?
Download from the web site or visit the office, located on the 3rd floor of the Municipal Building
How many copies of the Application, plans, etc do I have to submit?
22 sets of all documents, with the exception of stormwater and traffic studies. The count for these documents is determined by the Administrative Officer on a per application basis.
Zoning Department-Zoning Officer, Planning Board Administrative Officer
Tel: (908) 766-3000 ext.146
Zoning Enforcement Officer
Tel: (908) 766-3000 ext.114
Zoning Board of Adjustment Administrative Officer & Planning Board Recording Secretary
Tel: (908) 908 766-3000 ext.145
Hours of Operation:
Mon-Fri 8:30am - 4:30pm
Tel: (908) 766-3000
Fax: (908) 766-2401
166 Mine Brook Road, 3rd Floor
Bernardsville, NJ 07924