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November 25, 2009

RE: New Laws

Dear Mayor:

Governor Corzine recently signed a number of new laws, many of which impact local governments.    Below is a quick summary of some of these laws.  

Inherently Beneficial Uses Legislation Signed

On Friday, over the strong objections of the League and municipalities across the State, the Governor signed S-1303/A-3062 into law as PL 2009, c. 146.      The bill amends the definitions section of the Municipal Land Use Law (N.J.S.A. 40:55D-4) to add two new definitions, one for 'inherently beneficial uses' and the other for 'wind, solar, and photovoltaic energy facilities or structures.'   The bill, which seeks to codify existing case law with respect to inherently beneficial uses, defines an inherently beneficial use as one that is "universally considered of value to the community" in that by its very nature, it "fundamentally serves the public good and promotes the general welfare." The definition then lists examples of such uses, including (but not limited to), hospitals, schools, child care centers, groups homes, and wind, solar or photovoltaic energy facilities or structures. The bill defines "wind, solar, or photovoltaic energy or facility or structure' as a facility or structure whose purpose is to supply electric energy generated from wind, solar or photovoltaic technologies, regardless of whether it is a principal use, part of a principal use, or accessory use or structure.

Prior to this bill, the courts treated inherently beneficial uses on a case-by-case basis. Although a use such as a brain trauma center would undoubtedly be considered inherently beneficial if the center was the only one of its kind in the area, the courts made clear that in a community saturated with such facilities, the use might no longer qualify as inherently beneficial. The MLUL amendment effectuated through this bill, however, removes that distinction, making the listed uses inherently beneficial regardless of how many may already exist within the community. In addition, by adding wind, solar and photovoltaic facilities to the list, the new law anticipates further legal developments, as the status of such uses has yet to be addressed by the courts.

It should also be noted that by using the term "includes, but is not limited to" in the definition of inherently beneficial use, the bill makes clear that other uses could also qualify as inherently beneficial uses, even though not specifically enumerated in the definition (e.g. houses of worship and affordable housing).

Municipal Certified Recycling Coordinator Extension of Requirements

We are pleased to inform you that Governor Corzine signed A-3541/S-2609 into law as P.L. 2009, c. 164.  This new law extends the deadline for complying with the municipal recycling coordinator certification requirements to January 13, 2013.  The bill also removed the requirement that the municipal recycling program include collection sites for televisions and electronic devices.

Acquire Land for Farmland Preservation

We are pleased to inform you that Governor Corzine signed A-828/S-1816 into law as P.L. 2009, c. 147.  This new law authorizes counties and municipalities to acquire real property, in fee simple, for farmland preservation purposes.  The property may be resold or leased out with an agricultural deed restriction place on the property.

PILOT and Municipal Cap

We are pleased to inform you that Governor Corzine signed A-3464/S-2372 into law as P.L. 2009, c. 149.   This new law will permit increases to the local expenditure cap base, being a municipality’s final appropriations for the previous year, by the amount of payments in lieu of taxes received on a parcel of land on or after January 1, 2007. 

Please contact us at (609) 695-3481 x120, x121 or x112 if you have any questions on any of these bills.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director




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