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The Power of Zoning

Several years ago I worked for a consultant doing some environmental permitting and stormwater management for this massive project to power the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in Jackson, New Jersey. Once the project appeared before the Jackson Planning Board several environmental groups made their voices heard about the concerns of cutting down trees in order to build a solar farm. 

While the outcry over whether this was a true “green” development grew louder, the environmental impact was not of legal concern. Eventually the case came down to whether a zoning change for the area was broadly fair to encourage development or whether it was too specifically inclined to this individual project. As the above article states, last month it was ruled that the zoning change was admissible and the project may now have cleared at least one hurdle. 

Cases like these make us, as those who work in development, really think of the power of zoning and more specifically how zoning is used by municipalities to get the type of desired development. In this case it was argued that the zoning was created too specifically. Not in protest of the project, but to guarantee it would move forward. How to dive into municipal zoning code, find intentions and split hairs, is a topic that I’m sure will find its way to debate and probably into a court room again. 

Link to article:

-Caleb Nelson 
  Engineer I

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