When do I need a variance and how do I get one?

Normally you find out that you need a variance when your application for a home project (such as an addition to your house, the building of a deck or portico) is denied by the Zoning Officer because completion of the project would conflict with the Township’s land use ordinance in some way.  (For example, the portico may encroach into the front-yard setback required by ordinance, or the addition results in a lot coverage percentage that exceeds the maximum allowed.)

The most common type of variance that affects homeowners is one that is needed for the reasons mentioned above: the project does not conform with the standards set forth in Section 6.1.1B of the Municipal Land Use Procedures Ordinance and would therefore require a “c” variance or “bulk variance.” 

Your property is located in one of 3 residential zones:  the R-10 Zone, the R-15 Zone or the R-20 Zone, and each zone has specific requirements as to lot size, lot width, setbacks, lot coverage ratios, etc.  

 To review the limitations that have been put in place by our land use ordinance for each zoning district, please click on the attachment “Schedule of General Regulations.”  

 Here is an example of the procedures for obtaining a variance:

  • I submitted my plan (a “Zoning application”) for an addition to the ground floor of my house to the Township Zoning Officer.  The addition would allow me to expand my kitchen, and the addition would bump out into the back yard.
  • The Zoning Officer responded to my application with a “Denial Letter” citing the section of the ordinance and explaining that a variance is required from the Board of Adjustment (for encroaching into the required 40 ft. rear-yard setback) before I may proceed with the project as presented.  Now I must submit an application to the Zoning Board of Adjustment or modify my project to conform.
  • The application package for the Board of Adjustment, which includes instructions on how to proceed, may be found at :XXXXXX on the website.
  • Fees and an escrow deposit are required to apply for a variance; they vary depending on the type of variance sought.
  • Currently the Board of Adjustment is conducting their monthly meetings through ZOOM.
  • The estimated time frame from submission of a variance application to your hearing date is generally about 2 months (but can take longer depending on volume of applications).

My application was heard by the Board of Adjustment, and the Board voted to approve my application.  Now what happens?

You must wait for your resolution of approval.  If your application is approved by the Board at the meeting, the Board Attorney will need time to draft the resolution of approval containing any conditions or terms of the approval as discussed at the meeting.  The resolution draft would then be distributed to the Board Members for their review.  Once the resolution is finalized, it would most likely be adopted at the next subsequent meeting of the Board (although it could take longer in some rare cases).  Your application is not officially approved until you receive the resolution.

Once you have received the resolution, usually delivered via email, you may begin the process of submitting your plans to the Zoning Department (“Zoning”).  Zoning will also receive a copy of the approved resolution.  If plans are finalized, no changes were required by the Board of Adjustment, and all of your building jacket paperwork was initially submitted, the zoning review can be started with that initial submission.   However, if the Board required changes to the plans, those changes need to be addressed on a revised set of plans and resubmitted to Zoning to begin the review process.

Once Zoning approves the project, it will be submitted to the engineering office if drainage or storm water management control was required as a condition of approval in the resolution.  If storm water drainage is not a requirement, after zoning approval your plans will be submitted to the building department for their review and issuance of the building permit.

All submissions should be received by the Township through our SDL Portal.


Please note - this link brings you to a new screen where you will need to create an account to access any of the above information.  Click the "Sign Up" button at the top right of your screen. 

Overview: The SDL Portal is a cloud-based web application that allows your town officials, employees and citizens to gain access to town data when and where they need it. Real-time syncing with the SDL Municipal Management Software platform allows for up-to-date data for all users, whether in the office or from the comfort of home. Highly configurable, users can set up the online portal to give access when, where and how they need it to be.

The portal can be accessed through the Township’s home web page.  If plans cannot be submitted through the portal, a drop box located in the new Township municipal building foyer is available to place plans and other information.   The drop box is checked multiple times a day.

Upon zoning approval, an email is sent to the applicant informing them of the approval.  If a fee is due, the zoning approval will be issued upon payment of the fee.  Once the Building Department has completed their review, the permit will be ready for pick-up or emailed upon payment of the building permit fee. 

 I cannot locate my survey.  What do I do?   Does the Town have a copy of my survey?

As stated on the zoning application form an accurate scaled current survey of the property is required showing all existing conditions, such as; current house configuration, sidewalks, patios, decks, sheds, driveway, pool, etc.  The required survey will be used for zoning review and if required township engineer drainage plan review.  A signed and sealed survey is a legal document that all property owners should have in their possession.  If not, the property can be re-surveyed by a NJ Licensed Land Surveyor; the property owner may check their closing transaction paperwork on the sale of the property, if there is a line item cost in the RESPA for a survey and you do not have it, a call to your closing attorney may get you the survey.  Maybe your mortgage holder has a copy of your survey.  The municipality is not the depository for your survey, however if a past building project required a survey, it may be on file with the building department.  This request would be through the township clerks office via an OPRA.

I received my resolution of approval from the Board of Adjustment for my kitchen addition.  However, one of the conditions of approval is a drainage plan / stormwater management plan to be submitted to the Township Engineer for his approval.  Why is this necessary?  What is the procedure?  Do I need to hire someone to draw up this plan?  

The drainage plan/stormwater management plan is required to demonstrate the appropriate mitigation of the additional runoff proposed by the approved project.  Typically, the plan is prepared and certified by a NJ licensed professional engineer and conforms to the requirements established by NJDEP Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual and applicable Township Codes.