About the Meetings:
Planning Board meetings are quasi-judicial meetings where action is taken on development applications. All meetings are recorded. Applicants and their witnesses, and members of the public who choose to speak about applications are sworn to provide testimony and comments. The Planning Board Clerk takes meeting minutes, and Planning Board members review and approve the minutes before the minutes are posted on the Florence Township website. An applicant may elect to hire its own Court Reporting Service at their own expense. Individuals may choose to represent their own application before the Board or elect to be represented by an attorney.
Please note: All corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies that are not solely owned must be represented by a land use attorney licensed in the State of New Jersey.
The Planning Board meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers/Court Room of the Municipal Complex located at 711 Broad Street, Florence, New Jersey 08518. Meeting dates are available on the township website and posted in the main hallway of the municipal building. Members of the public are encouraged to attend the meeting in person; however, they may view and participate in the Board meeting via Zoom for which the virtual meeting link is provided on the agenda and posted to the township website and in the main hallway of the municipal building.
About the Board Members:
The Planning Board consists of seven members and two alternate members. The Township Mayor and a councilperson serve on the Planning Board. The balance of the members of the Board are residents appointed by the Township Mayor and serve the public without compensation. Professional staff consisting of an Attorney, a Professional Planner, Professional Engineer and Administrative Officer/Board Clerk assists the Planning Board.
Board members are required to complete a state-mandated training course, which is also available to the public.
Board members are required to file electronic financial disclosure statements on a state website each year pursuant to the New Jersey Ethics Law.
After receipt of an application, the Board’s Clerk, Engineer, Attorney and Planner shall review it for completeness and conformance with the requirements of the Township Land Development Ordinance. Deficiencies will be noted and a determination will be made, not later than 45 days after receipt of the application, whether or not the application is complete. If the application is found to be incomplete, the Board Clerk or any professional will notify the applicant, in writing, within the 45 days of the deficiencies in the application. The applicant may request that one or more of the submission requirements be waived, in which event the Board shall grant or deny the request within 45 days. The Board may waive any submission requirement on request of the applicant or on its own motion if it reasonably concludes that such information is not necessary in a particular case to enable it to take action.
A determination of incompleteness shall not preclude resubmission of a complete application, provided, that payment of a new application fee and redeposit of the required escrow shall be made upon resubmission. An applicant whose application has been determined to be incomplete may withdraw the application together with all unused escrow deposits, or may request the Board Clerk to retain it in inactive status for a period not to exceed six months pending correction of deficiencies.
The Board’s procedures are similar to courtroom procedures. The chairperson conducts the meeting as a judge would, and the Board deliberates as a jury would voting to render a final decision.
The Planning Board is responsible for preparing the Township Master Plan that complies with the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL), reexamining the Master Plan at least every 10 years, and reviewing zoning ordinances referred to the Board by the Township Council.
When members of the public follow the procedures provided below, their input will have optimal effect on the Board’s deliberations. Please know that every application is judged on its individual merits. The Board is prohibited from predetermining the outcome of an application. Applicants have the right to present their applications to the Board and respond to comments and requests of the Board.
Before the hearing on the application begins, the Board Attorney reviews the applicant’s public notification to ensure the applicant notified the public about the application in compliance with the law. To commence the hearing on a development application, the chairperson announces the application and the applicant or their attorney comes forward to be recognized. Before an applicant provides testimony about its application, the applicant introduces themselves, affirms that their testimony will be truthful (while being sworn under oath by the Planning Board of Adjustment Attorney), and then explains the nature of the application. When an attorney represents an applicant, the attorney presents the application. If there are expert witnesses to provide testimony in support of an application, they are sworn in, provide their qualifications in their area of expertise, and have their qualifications accepted before presenting their testimony.
Following the testimony of each witness, the Board may ask questions and seek input from the Board’s professional staff. The applicant is provided the opportunity to complete their testimony before the Chairperson opens the hearing to the public to ask questions and make statements.
When the public portion of the hearing is opened, members of the public have the opportunity to ask questions and make statements. If you have a question, please raise your hand. When the chairperson calls on you, please walk to the microphone. The Board Attorney will swear you in. Please speak clearly into the microphone. All persons who speak during the hearing must state their names and addresses and spell their names before asking questions or making comments pertaining to the application. The public shall direct their questions and comments to the Board Chairperson. The Chairperson has the discretion to limit the amount of time each member of the public may speak to ensure adequate time for all speakers for all applications. Members of the public attending virtually wishing to speak should use the “Raise your Hand” function and wait to be called on by the Chairperson.
Verbal & Written Statements:
Verbal statements made by the public should be supportable and not hearsay. The applicant has the right to cross-examine any members of the public who speak. The New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law prohibits the submission of written statements or letters from individuals who are not present, petitions, or speaking on someone’s behalf. Written statements from the public in favor of or opposing the application cannot be accepted because the Board, as well as the applicant or the applicant’s attorney, cannot cross-examine written statements. A member of the public may provide the Board Clerk with a written copy of their remarks after speaking.
Only the chairperson may decide who speaks at a given time. Comments called out from the audience will not be considered part of the record. Members of the public should avoid calling out during the hearing to avoid the unnecessarily disruption of the hearing.
The chairperson has the right to close the public portion of a hearing if they feel that the audience is unruly or is making comments that are not relevant to the application. The chairperson also has the right to have any member of the audience removed from the hearing room for unruly display of meeting decorum.
Public Questions & Comments:
The public may comment on applications during the public portion of the hearing. The timing of such comment depends on the complexity of the application. In general, less complex applications have one public comment period. More complex applications may have public question periods after each expert witness presents testimony, and a general public comment period after the completion of the presentation of the application. When asking a question regarding a specific witness’s testimony, the public may ask a question only about that expert’s testimony. The public may comment on any aspect of the application during the public comment period at the close of the application.
Other Meeting Procedures:
The meeting is recorded using an audio system. Minutes will be prepared and summarized by the Board Clerk. Hearings that are not completed at one meeting may be further considered at future meetings. The chairperson will verbally announce that an application is carried to the next meeting.
To confirm a continuation or rescheduling, call the Board Clerk at (609) 499-2525, Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
The information and guidelines provided are subject to any changes in the Municipal Land Use Law and are subject to any procedures or deviations established by the Board to implement the Municipal Land Use Law in effect at the time. (These guidelines are for the purpose of assisting interested parties in understanding and participating in the municipal land use process. Each application is unique and deviations from this outline may necessarily occur. Such deviations should not be considered a basis for an argument in any appeals of a decision rendered by the Board.)