You may not have known it but your municipality just got a new ordinance, all without debate or a single vote from the elected municipal council. Pursuant to P.L. 2021, c.171, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) published “An Ordinance Authorizing and Encouraging Electric Vehicle Supply/Service Equipment (EVSE) & Make-Ready Parking Spaces.” The “model ordinance” as the law terms it, became effective in each municipality upon its publication on the DCA website on September 1, 2021.
While the fact that a state administrative agency was tasked with adopting an ordinance to be effective in an enforced by every municipality is, on its own, very concerning. It is even more worrisome that such an ordinance was adopted without public input. This lack of public input is the result of the legislature adopting and Governor Murphy signing the law allowing the DCA to adopt the “model ordinance” without needing to follow the requirements of the New Jersey Administrative Procedure Act, which would have otherwise required notice and a public comment period.
As the title suggests, the “model ordinance” deals with the municipal regulation of electric vehicle supply/service equipment (EVSE) and make-ready parking spaces. As designated by P.L. 2021, c.171 and in the ordinance, EVSE and make-ready spaces are designated as permitted accessory use in all zoning or use districts. Among the areas regulated in the model ordinance are; approval and permits for EVSE and make-ready spaces, the required number of make-ready parking spaces as a condition of preliminary site plan approval for each application involving a multiple dwelling of five or more units, and minimum parking requirements.
Although many aspects of the “model ordinance” cannot be altered by a municipality, deviation from the standards are permitted to address installation, sightline, and setback requirements or other health- and safety-related specification for EVSA and make-ready parking spaces. However, in no event is a municipality authorized to require site plan review solely for the installation of EVSE or make-ready parking spaces. Any deviation from these standards requires affirmative municipal action through the adoption of an amending ordinance.
Neither the law nor the “model ordinance” notes how the new municipal regulation should be codified in municipal codebooks. Nor do either provide for any resources, outside of property taxes, to assist with or ensure municipal enforcement of the new regulations.
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., Associate General Counsel, FMarshall@njlm.org or 609-695-3481 x 137.