TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice, to require municipal planning or zoning board members to take a land use law and planning course, received final approval in the full Assembly today.
“By requiring more education we are making sure that the members of municipal planning and zoning boards are equipped with the knowledge to make the right decisions,” said Senator Rice. Chairman of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. “Because the field of land use law and planning has become so complex, a mandated course for the members is necessary. We need to be sure that our members have the proper education so that they can decide intelligently on applications that come before them.”
The bill, S-2133, would require that before serving as member of a municipal planning or zoning board a person must complete a basic course in land use law and planning within 18 months after the course is offered in order to retain membership.
Senator Rice noted that, the bill would exempt mayors, council members, licensed professional planners, and individuals who have completed more extensive land use education.
“New Jersey planning officials need to work closely with the Department of Community Affairs in order to establish a curriculum that will prepare the board members to make tough zoning decisions,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “It’s especially important to have education requirements for first-term members because they tend to need an introduction to zoning laws and planning strategies. Although current members would already have hands on experience with the material being taught in the course, I feel it is necessary to create a standard for all members.”
The bill now heads to the Governor’s office for enactment.