CSG Law Alert: Senate Committee Advances Law Concerning Guidance for Municipal Approval of Warehouse Development

On March 2, 2023, the Senate and Urban Affairs Committee advanced a new law, Senate Bill 3468 (“S3468”), requiring that the New Jersey State Planning Commission (the “Commission”) publish regulatory guidance to assist municipal planning boards and other local agencies, when acting pursuant to the Municipal Land Use Law (“MLUL”), on applications for warehouse development. The Commission has three months following the enactment of the law to publish the regulatory guidance. Once completed, the guidance publication will be available to the public on the Commission’s website and will also be incorporated by the Commissioner of Community Affairs into the course offered to local land use officials responsible for enforcing the MLUL.

S3468 is a clear expansion of the Distribution Warehousing and Goods Movement Guidelines adopted by the State Planning Commission in September of 2022 (the “2022 Guidelines”) to assist municipalities with warehouse development.  The 2022 Guidelines distinguished between different types of warehouses and included specific attributes for each type of facility to help municipalities determine whether a project was compatible with a site and beneficial to a community. In addition, the 2022 Guidelines addressed municipal zoning and siting considerations, redevelopment and brownfields, overburdened communities, traffic, transportation and road safety, sustainable design, mitigation best practices and examples of best practices for community involvement and engagement.

The 2022 Guidelines, however, did not provide warehouse development applicants or local approving authorities with examples of questions and reports that would typically be asked of or requested from a warehouse development applicant prior to the issuance of development approvals.  This legislation goes a step further by directing the Commission to publish regulatory guidance that incorporates model questions and reports to address potential community concerns, such as traffic volume, road safety, and environmental considerations.  In addition, S3468 includes a requirement for a module specifically on warehouse development to be included in the training materials for current and prospective members of local planning boards and zoning boards of adjustment in connection with the teaching and enforcement of the MLUL.

A copy of the S3468 can be found here and a copy of the 2022 Guidelines can be found here.