TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice to require members of a municipal planning or zoning board to complete a basic course in land use law and planning was approved by the full Senate today.
“By requiring more education we are making sure that the members of the planning and zoning boards have the knowledge to make the appropriate decisions,” said Senator Rice. Chairman of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. “A mandated course for the members is necessary because the field of land use law and planning has become so complex that the educational requirements are needed to ensure that board members can rule intelligently on applications that come before them.”
The bill, S-2133, would require that before a person could serve as a first-term or alternate member of a municipal planning or zoning board he or she must successfully complete a basic course in land use law and planning. The bill also would mandate that anyone who is currently serving as a first-term member finish the course within 18 months 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.
“The New Jersey Planning Officials will work closely with the DCA in order to establish a curriculum that will fully prepare the board members to make tough decision on zoning,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “It’s important to make education requirements for all first-term members as a way to introduce them 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 Assembly for consideration.