Planning and Zoning
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In cooperation with the New Jersey Association of Planning and Zoning Administrators, the Center for Government Services at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, offers two certificate programs:
- Planning and Zoning Administration
- Zoning Administration and Enforcement
Also, as a member of the Partners for Municipal Land Use Education, CGS offers a six-hour course for planning and zoning board members:
- Land Use for Board Members
This series of courses is intended to meet the educational needs of those municipal employees who are designated administrative officers in accordance with the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1 et seq., and secretaries to planning boards and zoning boards of adjustment. Those who attain a passing grade in all three courses are eligible to apply for the Board Secretary certificate for a period of three years from the date the student successfully completed the last class. The application form is available in the Downloads box to the right.
Introduction to Planning and Zoning Administration
This course offers a comprehensive overview of basic administrative procedures for planning and zoning support staff. Discussions cover the duties of each board, the legal responsibilities of the administrative officer, and such practical matters as the preparation of agendas and minutes, notice requirements, and the management of escrow accounts. A written examination is given at the conclusion of the course.
Financial and Records Management for Planning and Zoning Offices
Prerequisite: Introduction to Planning and Zoning Administration
In this seminar, both the financial and record-keeping aspects of the board secretary’s job are explained. The morning portion focuses on traditional records management topics. Practical advice on file management is given, and state records retention and disposal requirements are reviewed. The second half of the seminar emphasizes escrow account administration in the context of the application review process. Other financial management topics include budget preparation and administration, application fees, and post-approval guarantees and inspection fees. A written examination is given at the conclusion of the course.
Understanding Plans: Site Plan and Subdivision Review for Administrative Officers and Board Secretaries
Prerequisite: Financial and Records Management for Planning and Zoning Offices
In this course, the administrative officer and board secretary are exposed to some of the technical aspects of plan review. The administrative processing requirements for applications are discussed. Planning and engineering terminology is explained, and the symbols for various physical features and design elements are identified. Classroom exercises offer opportunities to become familiar with various types of plans and to review plans for completeness. A written examination is given at the conclusion of the course.
This series of courses is intended to meet the educational needs of those municipal employees who serve as zoning officers or zoning officials in accordance with the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1 et seq., and who have responsibility for enforcing local zoning ordinances. Those who attain a passing grade in all three courses are eligible to apply for the Zoning Official certificate for a period of three years from the date the student successfully completed the last class. The application form is available in the Downloads box to the right.
Introduction to Zoning Administration and Enforcement
This course focuses on the technical knowledge and skills necessary for an individual to effectively interpret and enforce a municipal zoning ordinance. Emphasis is placed on the practical aspects of the job, including on-site inspections and compliance options. An introduction to the Municipal Land Use Law is provided, and the content and structure of zoning ordinances are thoroughly discussed. A written examination at the conclusion of the course includes both in-class and take-home components.
Understanding Plans: Site Plan and Subdivision Review for Zoning Officials
Prerequisite: Introduction to Zoning Administration and Enforcement
In this seminar, the zoning official is exposed to some of the technical aspects of plan review. The administrative processing requirements for applications are discussed. Planning and engineering terminology is explained, and the symbols for various physical features and design elements are identified. Classroom exercises offer opportunities to become familiar with surveys, site plan, and subdivision drawings; to review plans for completeness; and to learn how conditions of approval are enforced. A written examination is given at the conclusion of the course.
Zoning Administration and Enforcement II
Prerequisite: Understanding Plans: Site Plan and Subdivision Review for Zoning Officials
The third course in the series builds on the first two. Students are taught zoning case law, advanced administrative and investigative techniques, and communication skills. Significant zoning-related court cases are reviewed, and students learn how to perform such tasks as writing reports and conducting survey inspections. Homework assignments, case studies, and other classroom exercises are used extensively. A written examination is given at the conclusion of the course.
In 2005 the New Jersey State Legislature enacted N.J.S.A. 40:55D-23.3 and 23.4, which require that members of municipal planning boards, zoning boards of adjustment, and combined boards successfully complete a basic training course within 18 months of their appointment. The statute and implementing regulations call for five hours of instruction offered by course providers approved by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. For more information about the requirements, go to the Planning/Zoning Education page on the DCA website.
With over sixty years of experience in training New Jersey officials, the Center for Government Services understands the demands placed on board members. Now, CGS — as a member of the Partners for Municipal Land Use Education — is offering a six-hour course for planning and zoning board members. The partners who helped develop the course are:
- Rutgers Center for Government Services
- The Municipal Land Use Center at the College of New Jersey
- New Jersey Future
- New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association
- New Jersey Association of Planning and Zoning Administrators
Land Use for Board Members (Course Description)
The curriculum involves six hours of classroom instruction, including a hands-on opportunity to learn how to review site plans and subdivisions. It is presented by an experienced land use attorney and a professional planner. Registrants receive a copy of the PowerPoint presentation used by the instructors, a copy of the Municipal Land Use Law, and a copy of Planning and Zoning in New Jersey, a manual developed specifically for the program and as a resource for municipal planning and zoning board members. Copies of Planning and Zoning in New Jersey may be purchased from the Center for $25 without registering for the course. For additional information and a publication order form visit the CGS Publications page.
This course satisfies the requirements of the "Basic Course in Land Use Law and Planning" Training Program required pursuant to P.L. 2005, c. 133 and has been approved by the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs.
Upon successful completion of the Planning and Zoning Administration program, a student may apply for a planning board/zoning board secretary certificate, which must be renewed every five (5) years.
Upon successful completion of the Zoning Administration and Enforcement program, a student may apply for a zoning official certificate, which also must be renewed every five (5) years.
Those individuals who hold the Board Secretary certificate and work full time in a municipal land use office for a minimum of five years may be eligible to apply for the additional designation of Land Use Administrator. No additional courses are required prior to making application, but the applicant must be able to document extensive administrative and/or supervisory experience. They also must supply three (3) letters of professional reference and respond to a questionnaire. The Education Advisory Committee for the Center’s land use curricula reviews the applications, and qualified applicants are invited to an interview. Post-interview, the full Committee votes on the application, and the designation is awarded to those applicants approved by a simple majority of the committee membership.
Board Secretary and Zoning Official certificate applications are available in the Downloads box at the top of this webpage.
Land Use Administrator applications are available upon request. For further information on the LUA, call Laura Flagg at 732-932-3640, ext. 623.
In order to maintain and renew a Board Secretary certificate, certificate holders must accrue fifteen (15) hours of continuing education related to land use and/or general administration. Those who hold the Zoning Official certificate must accrue twenty (20) hours of continuing education, and those who are awarded the Land Use Administrator designation must accrue thirty (30) hours of continuing education every five (5) years in order to renew the certificate.
It is the responsibility of the certificate holders to keep track of their renewal credits and apply for renewal at the appropriate time. If a certificate is not renewed, it expires. An application for renewing any of the three credentials is available here.
Both the Center for Government Services and the New Jersey Association of Planning and Zoning Administrators offer continuing education seminars that give certificate holders the opportunity to accrue the necessary hours. CE credits toward certificate renewal is automatically awarded to those who attend the "Current Issues in Planning and Zoning" series, co-sponsored by CGS and NJAPZA. Credit is also approved by Rutgers for relevant seminars offered by a variety of organizations including the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, New Jersey Future, the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association, and New Jersey Planning Officials.
The Center for Government Services co-sponsors an annual Planning and Zoning Continuing Education Conference with the New Jersey Association of Planning and Zoning Administrators. Conference information will be posted here as details are finalized.