Why Do I Need an Attorney For My Land Use Application? (Part I)

In the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, you, like many other residents, are dealing with the complex and confusing laws relating to insurance coverage and flood elevations in the quest to rebuild your homes. You now maybe be looking to maneuver through the land use application process before your local land use board to rebuild or elevate your home. This process is overwhelming, as there are very strict procedures and requirements that must be completed during the preparation of the application, during the hearing before the land use board and during the post approval time period.

The first step of the process requires the completion of a land use application and submission of accompanying documents such as escrow agreements, plans, surveys and submission of checks. Of course the plans and surveys will need to be prepared by a certified surveyor or engineer, but the land use application itself requires information that necessitates a certain level of expertise and knowledge of the Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL). The MLUL sets forth the procedures for proper filing of land use applications and the standards that must be met in order to receive approval by the land use board.

The application requires a listing of the type of relief you may require from local ordinances, which are called variances, and design regulations, which are called waivers. The applications will ask for information relating to use, setbacks, building coverage and height of structure. Moreover, the application will require the submission of application checks, which go to the municipality, and escrow checks, which are paid to the Land Use Board professionals, such as the Board Attorney or Board Engineer, to defer the cost of their review of your application. These checks are directly computed on the type of application, the number of variances required, or lot size. Only after the Land Use Board Secretary has received the information referred to above will it be determined if the application is complete, which may take up to 30-45 days.

The next step in the application process, the Notice of Publication process, is the most important and, if prepared with even the smallest of errors, can void your approval. The Notice of Publication outlines what you propose to construct and the types of relief you may need to receive approval. This Notice must be sent via certified return receipt and regular mail to property owners within 200 feet of your property; this list of owners must be received from the tax assessor as a certified list. The Notice must also be published in the local newspaper. These two types of Notice must be completed in excess of 10 days prior to hearing and proof of the Notice must be sent to the Board Secretary at least 3 days prior to your hearing.

As can be seen from the information above, the application process requires understanding of the MLUL. The attorneys at the Law Office of R.C. Shea and Associates can assist to make this process stress free to help get you and your family back into your home. Look for future articles on the Land Use Process which will review the hearing process and post approval compliance procedures.

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