Q Do municipalities now have more control over establishing local traffic regulations? I am on our local governing body, and my colleagues tell me that we can now adopt certain traffic ordinances and resolutions without prior approval by the New Jersey Department of Transportation. Is this true? If so, which regulations can be established this way, and what is the procedure?
A In 2004, N.J.S.A. 39:4-8 was amended by P.L.2004, Chapter 169 to give local governments more control over traffic in their communities. Under the revised law, certain traffic regulations can be established by a municipality without the approval of the Department of Transportation. These include the following on self-contained streets: stop signs, four-way stops, no passing zones, mid-block crosswalks and parking regulations. A “self-contained” municipal street does not cross the municipal boundary into another municipality. Furthermore, DOT approval is no longer required for the establishment of speed limits on any municipal street, even if the street continues in another municipality.
To use this expanded municipal power, the municipality has to adopt an ordinance or a resolution. An ordinance is required to establish a stop sign, a four-way stop, a mid-block crosswalk or parking regulations. For a no passing zone, a resolution is necessary.
Within 30 days of the adoption of the ordinance or resolution, three things must be submitted to the DOT: 1) a certified copy of the adopted ordinance or resolution, 2) the municipal engineers certification (with P.E. seal) stating that the traffic regulation is in the “interest of safety and expedition of traffic,” and 3) the appropriate supporting data used by the municipal engineer to make this certification.
The commissioner of the DOT, at his or her discretion, may invalidate the provisions of the ordinance or resolution within 90 days of receipt of the certified copy if he or she reviews it and finds that the provisions are inconsistent with the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets or Highways; are inconsistent with accepted engineering standards; are not based on the results of an accurate traffic and engineering survey; or place an undue traffic burden or impact on streets in an adjoining municipality or negatively affect the flow of traffic on the state highway system.
The law has also changed with regard to the establishment of stop signs on contiguous streets within 500 feet of a school, playground or youth recreational facility. Although the placement of such signs must be established by adoption of an ordinance or resolution, like all traffic regulations, the law does not require anything to be submitted to the DOT after the adoption. Streets are contiguous for these purposes if the school, playground or youth recreational facility is located directly on one of the intersecting streets. The engineer must certify that the facility is within 500 feet of the intersection where the stop sign is going to be installed and that it is on one of the two contiguous roads. Stop signs installed under the provision allowing their installation within 500 feet of a school, playground or youth recreational facility do not have to meet any of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) Standards.
Q I am a council member, and we are considering finally adopting a hotel/motel tax ordinance, but we are confused as to how long after adoption such an ordinance will become effective. I always thought it took 30 days after adoption for it to take effect, but one of my colleagues thinks that the rule has changed. Is this true?
A Yes, the timeline has changed from what it was when the hotel/motel occupancy tax first was enacted. For municipalities adopting Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax ordinances on and after January 1, 2004, the effective date for the occupancy tax is 90 days after transmittal of the adopted ordinance to the New Jersey Treasurer. This transmittal should be made by sending the adopted ordinance to:
New Jersey Department of the Treasury
Division of Taxation
PO Box 264
Trenton, NJ 08695-0264
Therefore, in order to have an effective date of February 1, 2007, the adopted ordinance must be received by the Division of Taxation by Monday, October 30, 2006
This column is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as legal advice.