Governor Phil Murphy • Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver
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General News

07/10/2020   E-Procurement Rules
06/25/2020   Adjustment of Public Bidding Thresholds Effective July 1, 2020
06/19/2020   E-Procurement - Comment Period for Regulations
06/16/2020   COVID-19 Temporary Rental Assistance Program
05/28/2020   COVID-19: Extensions to Various Fiscal, Property Tax, & Licensed Offi
05/27/2020   FAST Audit
05/26/2020   New E-Procurement Regulations in Effect
05/05/2020   New DLGS Budgeting and Operational Guidance to Support Recovery
04/27/2020   CESFP Availability Notice
04/20/2020   New Municipal Bond Program
04/17/2020   COVICD-19 Guidance to Facilitate Continuity of Operations
04/16/2020   LFN 2020-10 COVID-19 Supp. Emergency Procurement Guidance
04/08/2020   FEMA Public Assistance Program COVID-19 Pandemic: DR-4488 Eligible
04/08/2020   GRC Special Statement - P.L. 2020, c.10 and COVID-19 Impacts on OPRA
04/02/2020   Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustments-Operational Guidance
04/02/2020   Guidance for Local Authorities-Local Appointing Authorities
03/30/2020   Local Finance Notice-2020-04- 2020 Financial Disclosure Statements
03/30/2020   NEW STATE AND FEDERAL PROGRAMS RELATED TO ENHANCING LIQUIDITY
03/27/2020   Division of Fire Safety COVID-19 Guidance 2020-06
03/23/2020   New Remote Public Meetings Guidance

E-Procurement Rules - 07/10/2020

DLGS adopted Emergency regulations to allow local governments and school districts to utilize online platforms for procuring goods, services, power supply, and contracts for public works projects. These emergency regulations are being concurrently proposed for permanent adoption and have been published in the June 15 New Jersey Register. The Notice of Emergency Adoption and Concurrent Proposal can be found on the DLGS website at https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/resources/rules_docs/R.2020%20d.062%20(52%20N.J.R.%201275(a)).pdf.

Executive Order 127 allows emergency rules that would otherwise expire during the current public health emergency to be extended until 90 days following the end of the public health emergency. As such the local unit e-procurement rules, which would otherwise statutorily expire on July 20, will remain in effect until 90 days following the end of the public health emergency.

Any formal comments on the regulations should be emailed to dlgs@dca.nj.gov with the heading Electronic Procurement Regulations - Rule Proposal Comment.

The deadline for comment submission remains July 15. Please email any questions on the use of electronic procurement platforms to lpcl@dca.nj.gov.

Notice has been sent to: Procurement Officials; Municipal CFOs; County CFOs; Municipal Clerks; Freeholder Board Clerks; Authority Officials; Fire District Officials; DLGS Listserv

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Adjustment of Public Bidding Thresholds Effective July 1, 2020 - 06/25/2020

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:11-3(c) and 18A:18A-3(b), the State Treasurer has exercised her authority to adjust bid thresholds for contracting units subject to the Local Public Contracts Law and the Public School Contracts Law. These adjustments become effective on July 1, 2020.

The maximum bid threshold has been increased from $40,000 to $44,000 for contracting units that have appointed a Qualified Purchasing Agent and avail themselves of the related higher bid threshold pursuant to N.J.S.A 40A:11-3 and 18A:18A-3.  

Pursuant to N.J.S.A 52:15C-10(d), the Office of the State Comptroller, after consultation with the Department of the Treasury, has also exercised its statutory authority to adjust the threshold amounts for reporting set forth in N.J.S.A 52:15C-10 (a) and (b).

Please review Local Finance Notice 2020-14, available at https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/lfns/20/2020-14.pdf,

for further information concerning the new public bidding thresholds and State Comptroller contract reporting thresholds. A listing of all contracting thresholds, including the current prevailing wage thresholds for municipal public works contracts, is available at https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/programs/lpcl_docs/Contracting%20Threshold%20Tables.pdf.

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E-Procurement - Comment Period for Regulations - 06/19/2020

DLGS adopted Emergency regulations to allow local governments and school districts to utilize online platforms for procuring goods, services, power supply, and contracts for public works projects. These emergency regulations are being concurrently proposed for permanent adoption and have been published in the June 15 New Jersey Register. The Notice of Emergency Adoption and Concurrent Proposal, along with the Notice of Imminent Peril and Governor concurrence for the emergency adoption, can be found on the DLGS website at https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/resources/rules_reg.html. The Notice of Emergency Adoption and Concurrent Proposal is located in the Proposed Rules and Recently Adopted Rules sections. Any formal comments on the regulations should be emailed to dlgs@dca.nj.gov with the heading Electronic Procurement Regulations - Rule Proposal Comment. The deadline for comment submission is July 15. Please email any questions on the use of electronic procurement platforms to lpcl@dca.nj.gov.

 

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COVID-19 Temporary Rental Assistance Program - 06/16/2020

DCA is pleased to announce the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which will provide temporary rental assistance to selected low and moderate income households who have experienced unemployment or reduced income due to the pandemic. For more information on the program and how to apply, visit https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/cverap.html.

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COVID-19: Extensions to Various Fiscal, Property Tax, & Licensed Offi - 05/28/2020

P.L. 2020, c. 34, enacted on May 15, 2020, authorizes the Director of the Division of Local Government Services to extend other deadlines established in the Local Budget Law, Local Fiscal Affairs Law, and the Local Authorities Fiscal Control Law, along with various property tax-related deadlines under Title 54 of the New Jersey Statutes, when a Gubernatorially-declared state of emergency or public health emergency is in effect.   The law also temporarily extends by one year the renewal period for all DLGS-licensed positions and for tax assessors, and allows an unlicensed official in a DLGS-licensed position as of May 15, 2020 to serve in an acting capacity for one additional year upon DLGS approval.

https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/resources/rules_docs/FINAL%20Director's%20Deadline%20Extension%20Order%20-%20Signed.pdf 

Local Finance Notice 2020-13 lists the various budget and property tax-related deadlines extended by Director Order, which is also attached, and details the statutory deadline extensions relating to various licensed officials.  

https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/lfns/20/2020-13.pdf

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FAST Audit - 05/27/2020

Quick tips for completing the Audit are available at https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/pdf/FAST%20Audit%20Quick%20Tips.pdf

Please visit the FAST webpage: https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/fast.html, for up to date FAST information.

Submission through FAST requires each local unit’s Registered Municipal Accountant (RMA) and Chief Financial Officer to complete their sections of the audit.  The Chief Financial Officer shall attach a PDF copy of the completed audit document and submit through FAST to complete formal submission. 

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New E-Procurement Regulations in Effect - 05/26/2020

New emergency regulations adopted by DLGS allow local governments and school districts to utilize online platforms for procuring goods, services, power supply, and contracts for public works projects; and codify the ability to use online auction platforms for the sale of surplus property and SRECs. Municipalities, counties, and school districts may also utilize online auction platforms for the sale or lease of real property. New rules N.J.A.C. 5:34-5.1 through 5.15 establish the regulatory framework for electronic procurement, while N.J.A.C. 5:34-8.5 and amended N.J.A.C. 5:34-4.3 largely codify the remote bid opening guidance in Local Finance Notice 2020- 10. The regulations can be accessed at:

https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/resources/rules_docs/5_34/njac_5345.pdf

https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/resources/rules_docs/5_34/njac_5348.pdf

https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/resources/rules_docs/5_34/njac_5344.pdf

Procurement officials are encouraged to review these regulations with their governing body members and legal counsel. Please note that the term offer as used in the regulations is an umbrella for responses to solicitations for bids, proposals, qualifications, or quotations. Offeror means the individual or entity submitting the response. The Division will issue a Local Finance Notice shortly providing additional guidance. Please email any questions on the use of electronic procurement platforms to lpcl@dca.nj.gov

These emergency regulations, which are effective until July 20, 2020, are being concurrently proposed for permanent adoption. The Notice of Emergency Adoption with Concurrent Proposal will appear in the June 15 New Jersey Register. Any formal comments on the regulations should be emailed to dlgs@dca.nj.gov with the heading Electronic Procurement Regulations - Rule Proposal Comment. Although the deadline for comment submission is July 15, the Division encourages earlier submission. 

Email sent to: Procurement Officials; Municipal CFOs; County CFOs; Municipal Clerks; Freeholder Board Clerks; Authority Officials; Fire District Officials; DLGS Listserv

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New DLGS Budgeting and Operational Guidance to Support Recovery - 05/05/2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to confront local units with significant financial and operational demands. Local Finance Notices 2020-11 and 2020-12 provide local units with strategic fiscal and operational guidance to address the many and unprecedented challenges arising during this fiscal year. The Division of Local Government Services issues these Notices to help local units adapt to the present circumstances and position themselves for long-term recovery.

https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/lfns/20/2020-11.pdf

https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/lfns/20/2020-12.pdf

https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/resources/rules_reg.html

 

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CESFP Availability Notice - 04/27/2020

Information Regarding Department of Justice - FY 2020 Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program Opportunity ID BJA-2020-18553 Fiscal Year 2020 Closing Date May 29, 2020

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has opened applications for the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program. The program provides funding to assist eligible states, local units of government, and tribes in preventing, preparing for, and responding to the coronavirus.   Allowable projects and purchases include, but are not limited to overtime, equipment (including law enforcement and medical personal protective equipment), hiring, supplies, training, travel expenses, and addressing the medical needs of inmates in state, local, and tribal prisons, jails, and detention centers.

Local governments may access the pertinent program information at:

https://bja.ojp.gov/funding/opportunities/bja-2020-18553

For more information about New Jersey FY 2020 CESF Allocations, please see:

https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/media/document/fy20-cesf-allocations-nj.pdf

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New Municipal Bond Program - 04/20/2020

Murphy Administration Taps I-Bank to Help Ensure Fiscal Stability of New Jersey Municipalities in Response to COVID-19

New Municipal Bond Program Helps Mitigate Financial Impacts to Local Governments During State of Emergency

TRENTON, NJ - In response to growing concerns about financial market disruptions on local governments, the Murphy Administration and the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank (I-Bank) have implemented a backstop municipal bond note program. I-Bank's $50 million liquidity investment, which is designed to help mitigate financial impacts to municipalities during the coronavirus state of emergency, launched on April 15. 

"Governor Murphy and I are grateful that New Jersey's I-Bank is able to step up in these uncertain times to help maintain fiscal solvency in all 565 of our municipalities," said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. "This investment will help calm concerns in our local government units about market volatility. DCA is proud to partner with I-Bank and the New Jersey Department of Treasury to promote economic stability as we ride out this unprecedented crisis." 

The I-Bank Bond Anticipation Note (BAN) Program provides liquidity for municipalities in New Jersey that experience difficulty rolling over BANs in today's volatile, disruptive municipal bond market. 

According to David Zimmer, Executive Director of the I-Bank, "This liquidity program is just one example of how the Governor is employing the state's agencies and authorities to proactively address the financial impact of the virus on communities in New Jersey."

New Jersey's I-Bank has amended its investment policy to permit it to invest in local government unit BANs in certain circumstances. The BAN purchase program is a limited and specialized resource made available only to participants in I-Bank associated financing programs to address failed sales occurring during BAN rollovers. 

This program is designed to ensure solvency and fiscal stability for New Jersey's local government units, providing protection against potential defaults during the present liquidity crisis. Its general terms are as follows: 

- The program is of limited duration, authorized only during a period in which the Governor has declared a State of Emergency.

- Only those BAN rollovers that require assistance, as defined by I-Bank, may participate.

- Members of the I-Bank, Treasurer's Office, and the financial advisor to the I-Bank shall determine the appropriate amount of available funds and liquidity to be     invested.

- There will be sector, issue, and credit limits, interest rate guidelines, and a maturity limit of 90 days for any BAN submitted for consideration.

- The Director of the Division of Investments in the New Jersey Department of Treasury must approve the purchase of any BAN through the program. 

'"I'm thrilled that I-Bank is focusing their resources on municipal needs in these challenging times to help ensure that all of our local units remain fiscally stable throughout this crisis. I want to thank I-Bank and the Department of Treasury for their diligence and cooperation in getting this program off the ground so quickly," said DCA Division of Local Government Services Director Melanie Walter.

"Treasury was pleased to be a part of this coordinated effort to help address the liquidity challenge many governments are facing right now," said Michael Kanef, Director of Treasury's Division of Public Finance. "We are hopeful that this additional protection will play a significant role in helping our municipalities weather this time of great uncertainty."

DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including affordable housing production, fire safety, building safety, community planning and development, local government management and finance, and disaster recovery.

For more information about DCA, visit nj.gov/dca/ or follow the Department on social media:

https://nj.gov/dca/news/news/2020/approved/20200420.html

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COVICD-19 Guidance to Facilitate Continuity of Operations - 04/17/2020

Division of Local Government Services (DLGS)

 Local Operational Guidance- COVID-19:

Guidance to Facilitate Continuity of Operations

 https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/pdf/Local_Operational_Guidance-COVID-19.pdf

 

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LFN 2020-10 COVID-19 Supp. Emergency Procurement Guidance - 04/16/2020

In light of current restrictions on public gatherings to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Local Finance Notice 2020-10 discusses means of reducing in-person contact during the competitive bidding process. This Notice supplements the emergency procurement guidance in Local Finance Notice 2020-06.

https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/lfns/20/2020-10.pdf

                               

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FEMA Public Assistance Program COVID-19 Pandemic: DR-4488 Eligible - 04/08/2020

DIVISION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES (DLGS)

 Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustments

Operational Guidance - COVID-19: N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1

Recommendations for Land Use Public Meetings in New Jersey

The Division of Local Government Services issues this guidance document to ensure continuity of Land Use application procedures while New Jersey’s Executive Order 103 and Executive Order 107 are in effect, to ensure due process is afforded during Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment hearings and to remind local units to adhere to appropriate social distancing and health measures as they implement this process. There are many options available to Planning Boards and Zoning Boards of Adjustment to facilitate virtual and telephonic public meetings. Planning Boards and Zoning Boards of Adjustment are also reminded of their continuing obligation to comply with N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 (the “Open Public Meetings Act,” or “Act”); please consult the Division’s Guidance for Remote Public Meetings for further discussion on specific means of conducting electronic meetings in compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act.

N.J.S.A. 40:55D-9 governs the meetings of municipal agencies. It requires, in short, that every municipal agency must have regular, at least monthly, public meetings, and they may have special meetings, as appropriate. All business must be conducted with a quorum; action must be taken in accordance with a majority vote, except as otherwise specified within the governing statutes; and minutes must be prepared and made available to the public.

Every Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment is required to grant or deny approval of applications pending before it within prescribed times, or within a further time as may be consented to by the Applicant. If the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment does not approve or deny an application within the prescribed or agreed upon time, it shall be deemed to have granted approval to the application. The statutory timeframes are as follows:

Application Submissions:

  1. Certification by Administrative Officer of list of property owners following applicant’s request – 7 days
  2. Time during which plans are to be on file prior to a hearing – 10 days
  3. Publication & mailing of notice of public hearing – 10 days
  4. Copy of Board decision to be mailed to applicant or attorney after decision – 10 days
  5. Time to appeal decision to governing body – 10 days
  6. Certification of complete application – 45 days
  7. Time for governing body to conclude review of record on appeal – 95 days

Time for Board to act once the application is deemed complete: 

  1. Minor subdivision application – 45 days
  2. Preliminary subdivision application of 10 or fewer lots – 45 days
  3. Preliminary subdivision application of more than 10 lots – 95 days
  4. Preliminary site plan approval where plan involves 10 acres of land or less, or 10 dwelling units or less – 45 days
  5. Minor site plan – 45 days
  6. Preliminary site plan approval where plan involves more than 10 acres or more than 10 dwelling units – 95 days
  7. Time of protection of an approved minor site plan – 2 years
  8. Time of protection against zoning changes for a minor subdivision – 2 years
  9. Planning Board approval for application seeking variances or relief – 120 days
  10. Time period during which a Planning Board shall grant or deny an application for conditional use – 95 days
  11. Maximum number of days for Zoning Board of Adjustment to decide on an application that has been certified complete where a variance is coupled with another form of development – 120 days
  12. Time of approval of a General Development Plan – 95 days
  13. Maximum term for the approval of a General Development Plan – 20 years

 Approvals: 

  1. Time during which statutory rights exist under a preliminary major subdivision or site plan approval – 3 years
  2. Maximum number of 1-year extensions to a preliminary approval that may be granted by a reviewing board - 2
  3. Time during which statutory rights exist under a final major subdivision or site plan approval – 2 years
  4. Maximum number of 1-year extensions to a final approval that may be granted by a reviewing board – 3
  5. Variance once granted runs with the land

Currently, these timeframes remain in effect. Should future executive or legislative action authorize modification of these timelines, further appropriate guidance will be promulgated.

Given that procedural requirements and deadlines remain in effect, it is imperative that local units continue to assure public hearings are conducted timely and without procedural defect. To this end, the Division offers the following recommendations:

Recommendations regarding filing plans and application materials: 

All plans and application materials must be on file with the Board Secretary for review by the public at least ten (10) days prior to the hearing.  In the present circumstances, the local unit should consider receiving plans electronically, and posting them for public review on and through the municipal website, drop-box, or some other online service that is accessible to the public, free of charge so that the ten day public access period is maintained. The local unit should also publicly post, and post online, a phone number and email for the Board Secretary. Members of the public should be advised that they may contact the Board Secretary to receive a hard copy of the plans and application materials by mail or via an exchange site such as a drop/pick up box by appointment at a secure, public location such as the police station or at the municipal building, subject to any standard fees or charges.

Recommendations regarding providing adequate public notice: 

Under the MLUL, a public notice must state the time, place and location of a public hearing, and where submitted plans can be found for public inspection. At this time, the notice must provide conference call access or web-meeting access information. Dial-in information should be provided to individuals without computer access or mobile device. The notice should also identify the websites on which plans are posted, contact information for the Board Secretary, and all available means of achieving public access to all documents and the meeting itself. The notice should state that individuals lacking the resources or know-how for technological access should contact the Board Secretary for assistance in accessing the plans and the meeting.

Recommendations regarding conducting hearings and facilitating public participation:

Given the restrictions currently limiting in-person public meetings, hearings will likely need to be conducted by alternative electronic means. Given the visual nature of the materials used in planning and zoning meetings, Zoom, Facebook, YouTube or some other video-conferencing technology will provide the most appropriate forum for hearings. All parties should consider coordinating in advance to assure applicants’ exhibits can be provided no less than two days in advance of the meeting and posted for Board and public access prior to and during the video meeting. The Board, its professionals and secretary will need to coordinate with the applicant and their professionals, as it is likely that the applicant's attorney, engineer, planner, etc. may not all be presenting from the same location. This deviation from the standard practice of concurrent introduction and discussion is recommended to ensure adequate information sharing and clear labeling for Board and public participation in the session. 

Planning Boards and Zoning Boards of Adjustment conducting electronic meetings must facilitate public comment on applications, as well as the public’s ability to cross-examine witnesses. At the beginning of an electronic meeting, the Board Chair should announce a standard limit on public comment (e.g. time limit, length or number of text comments) for each individual. Cross-examination of witnesses by the public may require relaxing the standard limit, but in all cases the Chair should limit redundant comments and questions to ensure orderly remote public participation. Members of the public should be encouraged to advise the Chair in advance, if possible, via email or phone call to the Board Secretary, of their intention to undertake cross-examination, to ensure technological needs are accommodated and documents that will be referenced are available for review by all participants.

Please consult the Division’s Guidance for Remote Public Meetings for further details on video-conferencing and facilitating public participation through video-conferencing platforms. 

Recommendations regarding the record of proceedings:

Local units have a continuing obligation to record and make public the minutes of public meetings. They must also continue to transcribe quasi-judicial proceedings. To maintain compliance with these obligations, a court reporter should participate in any virtual hearing, transcribing the video session. Additionally, a record of the entire proceeding can be retained using the adopted virtual meeting technology. New Jersey’s Courts have employed remote hearings for essential functions, which may be of interest to local units seeking to conduct statutorily compliant hearings under the present constraints: https://www.njcourts.gov/; https://www.njcourts.gov/notices/2020/n200315a.pdf. 

Conclusion: 

Planning Boards and Zoning Boards of Adjustment have options available to ensure the continuation of public business during this challenging time. The Division encourages local officials to review this guidance with their Board secretaries and professionals. Should you have any further questions or seek additional information, please contact the Division by email at DLGS@dca.nj.gov or by phone at 609-292-6613.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

          

                                               

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GRC Special Statement - P.L. 2020, c.10 and COVID-19 Impacts on OPRA - 04/08/2020

GRC Special Statement - P.L. 2020, c.10 and COVID-19 Impacts on OPRA

Enacted on March 20, 2020, P.L. 2020, c.10 provides that the statutory deadlines for a public agency to respond to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request during a state of emergency, public health emergency, or state of local disaster emergency, do not apply.

In accordance with the Government Records Council's newly issued special statement, available at https://www.state.nj.us/grc/news/alerts/GRC%20Special%20Statement%202020-01%20(Final).pdf, the Division recommends that, when responding to OPRA requests, local government records custodians document in writing any emergency-related barriers to providing the requestor with a final response within the standard OPRA response timeframe. Examples of such barriers can include building access restrictions, or a delay in availability of personnel needed to provide responsive records to the custodian or review responsive records to determine necessary redactions. As when requesting an extension of time to respond under normal circumstances, the custodian should inform the requestor in writing of the specific reasons for the delay, as well as soonest possible date after the normal statutory deadline by which the custodian reasonably expects to respond under the circumstances. To the greatest extent possible, the custodian's initial response to the requestor should adhere to the standard timeline for an OPRA request response.

We encourage all local governments to thoroughly review guidance issued by the Government Records Council (GRC) concerning the new law.

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Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustments-Operational Guidance - 04/02/2020

DIVISION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES (DLGS)

 Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustments

Operational Guidance - COVID-19: N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1

Recommendations for Land Use Public Meetings in New Jersey

The Division of Local Government Services issues this guidance document to ensure continuity of Land Use application procedures while New Jersey’s Executive Order 103 and Executive Order 107 are in effect, to ensure due process is afforded during Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment hearings and to remind local units to adhere to appropriate social distancing and health measures as they implement this process. There are many options available to Planning Boards and Zoning Boards of Adjustment to facilitate virtual and telephonic public meetings. Planning Boards and Zoning Boards of Adjustment are also reminded of their continuing obligation to comply with N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 (the “Open Public Meetings Act,” or “Act”); please consult the Division’s Guidance for Remote Public Meetings for further discussion on specific means of conducting electronic meetings in compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act.

N.J.S.A. 40:55D-9 governs the meetings of municipal agencies. It requires, in short, that every municipal agency must have regular, at least monthly, public meetings, and they may have special meetings, as appropriate. All business must be conducted with a quorum; action must be taken in accordance with a majority vote, except as otherwise specified within the governing statutes; and minutes must be prepared and made available to the public.

Every Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment is required to grant or deny approval of applications pending before it within prescribed times, or within a further time as may be consented to by the Applicant. If the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment does not approve or deny an application within the prescribed or agreed upon time, it shall be deemed to have granted approval to the application. The statutory timeframes are as follows:

Application Submissions:

  1. Certification by Administrative Officer of list of property owners following applicant’s request – 7 days
  2. Time during which plans are to be on file prior to a hearing – 10 days
  3. Publication & mailing of notice of public hearing – 10 days
  4. Copy of Board decision to be mailed to applicant or attorney after decision – 10 days
  5. Time to appeal decision to governing body – 10 days
  6. Certification of complete application – 45 days
  7. Time for governing body to conclude review of record on appeal – 95 days

Time for Board to act once the application is deemed complete: 

  1. Minor subdivision application – 45 days
  2. Preliminary subdivision application of 10 or fewer lots – 45 days
  3. Preliminary subdivision application of more than 10 lots – 95 days
  4. Preliminary site plan approval where plan involves 10 acres of land or less, or 10 dwelling units or less – 45 days
  5. Minor site plan – 45 days
  6. Preliminary site plan approval where plan involves more than 10 acres or more than 10 dwelling units – 95 days
  7. Time of protection of an approved minor site plan – 2 years
  8. Time of protection against zoning changes for a minor subdivision – 2 years
  9. Planning Board approval for application seeking variances or relief – 120 days
  10. Time period during which a Planning Board shall grant or deny an application for conditional use – 95 days
  11. Maximum number of days for Zoning Board of Adjustment to decide on an application that has been certified complete where a variance is coupled with another form of development – 120 days
  12. Time of approval of a General Development Plan – 95 days
  13. Maximum term for the approval of a General Development Plan – 20 years

 Approvals: 

  1. Time during which statutory rights exist under a preliminary major subdivision or site plan approval – 3 years
  2. Maximum number of 1-year extensions to a preliminary approval that may be granted by a reviewing board - 2
  3. Time during which statutory rights exist under a final major subdivision or site plan approval – 2 years
  4. Maximum number of 1-year extensions to a final approval that may be granted by a reviewing board – 3
  5. Variance once granted runs with the land

Currently, these timeframes remain in effect. Should future executive or legislative action authorize modification of these timelines, further appropriate guidance will be promulgated.

Given that procedural requirements and deadlines remain in effect, it is imperative that local units continue to assure public hearings are conducted timely and without procedural defect. To this end, the Division offers the following recommendations:

Recommendations regarding filing plans and application materials: 

All plans and application materials must be on file with the Board Secretary for review by the public at least ten (10) days prior to the hearing.  In the present circumstances, the local unit should consider receiving plans electronically, and posting them for public review on and through the municipal website, drop-box, or some other online service that is accessible to the public, free of charge so that the ten day public access period is maintained. The local unit should also publicly post, and post online, a phone number and email for the Board Secretary. Members of the public should be advised that they may contact the Board Secretary to receive a hard copy of the plans and application materials by mail or via an exchange site such as a drop/pick up box by appointment at a secure, public location such as the police station or at the municipal building, subject to any standard fees or charges.

Recommendations regarding providing adequate public notice: 

Under the MLUL, a public notice must state the time, place and location of a public hearing, and where submitted plans can be found for public inspection. At this time, the notice must provide conference call access or web-meeting access information. Dial-in information should be provided to individuals without computer access or mobile device. The notice should also identify the websites on which plans are posted, contact information for the Board Secretary, and all available means of achieving public access to all documents and the meeting itself. The notice should state that individuals lacking the resources or know-how for technological access should contact the Board Secretary for assistance in accessing the plans and the meeting.

Recommendations regarding conducting hearings and facilitating public participation:

Given the restrictions currently limiting in-person public meetings, hearings will likely need to be conducted by alternative electronic means. Given the visual nature of the materials used in planning and zoning meetings, Zoom, Facebook, YouTube or some other video-conferencing technology will provide the most appropriate forum for hearings. All parties should consider coordinating in advance to assure applicants’ exhibits can be provided no less than two days in advance of the meeting and posted for Board and public access prior to and during the video meeting. The Board, its professionals and secretary will need to coordinate with the applicant and their professionals, as it is likely that the applicant's attorney, engineer, planner, etc. may not all be presenting from the same location. This deviation from the standard practice of concurrent introduction and discussion is recommended to ensure adequate information sharing and clear labeling for Board and public participation in the session. 

Planning Boards and Zoning Boards of Adjustment conducting electronic meetings must facilitate public comment on applications, as well as the public’s ability to cross-examine witnesses. At the beginning of an electronic meeting, the Board Chair should announce a standard limit on public comment (e.g. time limit, length or number of text comments) for each individual. Cross-examination of witnesses by the public may require relaxing the standard limit, but in all cases the Chair should limit redundant comments and questions to ensure orderly remote public participation. Members of the public should be encouraged to advise the Chair in advance, if possible, via email or phone call to the Board Secretary, of their intention to undertake cross-examination, to ensure technological needs are accommodated and documents that will be referenced are available for review by all participants.

Please consult the Division’s Guidance for Remote Public Meetings for further details on video-conferencing and facilitating public participation through video-conferencing platforms. 

Recommendations regarding the record of proceedings:

Local units have a continuing obligation to record and make public the minutes of public meetings. They must also continue to transcribe quasi-judicial proceedings. To maintain compliance with these obligations, a court reporter should participate in any virtual hearing, transcribing the video session. Additionally, a record of the entire proceeding can be retained using the adopted virtual meeting technology. New Jersey’s Courts have employed remote hearings for essential functions, which may be of interest to local units seeking to conduct statutorily compliant hearings under the present constraints: https://www.njcourts.gov/; https://www.njcourts.gov/notices/2020/n200315a.pdf. 

Conclusion: 

Planning Boards and Zoning Boards of Adjustment have options available to ensure the continuation of public business during this challenging time. The Division encourages local officials to review this guidance with their Board secretaries and professionals. Should you have any further questions or seek additional information, please contact the Division by email at DLGS@dca.nj.gov or by phone at 609-292-6613.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

          

                                               

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Guidance for Local Authorities-Local Appointing Authorities - 04/02/2020

INFORMATION FOR COUNTY AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE NEW JERSEY CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION The Guidelines for State Employee Leave Time and Staffing - COVID-19 and FAQs published by the Civil Service Commission (Commission) pursuant to Executive Order 103 apply only to State employees and are not applicable to county or local government employees under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey Civil Service Commission.

Although guidance concerning the use of accumulated leave time, documentation required to be excused from work, adjusted hours of operation, flextime, or alternative work week issued by the CSC to state departments and agencies is not directly applicable to local government agencies, this guidance may provide a useful template to local jurisdictions seeking to establish and implement their own policies. However, please note that the CSC does not have authority to enforce such guidance at the local government level.

Accordingly, questions related to local jurisdictions'; policies should be directed to the appropriate human resources office rather than the CSC.

Essential employee designations are local management decisions based upon operational needs. Employees with questions regarding changes in their essential status should direct those questions to the appropriate human resources office.

Please also be advised that as a result of the continuing COVID-19 emergency, certain regulatory provisions in Title 4A of the New Jersey Administrative Code concerning position classification have been relaxed. This relaxation may impact employees in county and local government under the jurisdiction of the Commission.

Should staffing shortages disrupt the usual delivery of government services, it may become necessary for Appointing Authorities to reassign essential work duties to ensure continuity of operations. This potential temporary assignment of out-of-title work is permissible pursuant to N.J.A.C. 4A:3-3.4 so long as:

(1) the employee is otherwise qualified for the out of title work, (for example, if a temporary assignment requires an employee to be licensed in a particular trade, an Appointing Authority may not assign someone without such a license to perform the work);

(2) the assignment is temporary in nature, and

(3) the employee's normal job duties resume upon return of the absent employee(s).

Consistent with these requirements, unless there is a collective bargaining agreement that otherwise controls, an Appointing Authority has broad discretion to assign out-of-title duties without resulting in the employee's current position being permanently reclassified to a different title.

 

 

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Local Finance Notice-2020-04- 2020 Financial Disclosure Statements - 03/30/2020

Please be advised that Local Finance Notice 2020-04  (LFN) has  been issued containing important information concerning the annual Financial Disclosure Statement (FDS) filing process instructions for Local Government Officers (LGO) that you listed on your 2020 Roster. Please distribute this LFN to each LGO. If you added any new LGOs for 2020, please be sure to give them their PIN along with the LFN.  

Local Government Officers may begin filing on Monday, March 30, 2020.  The statutory deadline to file is April 30, 2020.

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NEW STATE AND FEDERAL PROGRAMS RELATED TO ENHANCING LIQUIDITY - 03/30/2020

INFORMATION REGARDING NEW STATE AND FEDERAL PROGRAMS RELATED TO ENHANCING LIQUIDITY IN THE MUNICIPAL DEBT MARKET
 
Federal Reserve MMLF Expansion
 
The Federal Reserve has expanded the Money Market Mutual Liquidity Fund (MMLF) to include certain high quality municipal securities, specifically notes with less than 12 month maturities, as eligible collateral. This means that certain municipal securities will classify as eligible collateral for both the Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF) and MMLF. With the Fed as a backstop, liquidity in these categories of notes should improve, enhancing certain municipal issuers' market access while current market conditions persist. 
 
Municipal debt that meets the following criteria may be eligible:
1. Maturity does not exceed 12 months; and
2. At the time purchased from the Fund or pledged to the Reserve Bank:
 A. Has a  top-tier short term rating if  rated in the short-term rating category (e.g., rated SP1, MIG1, or F1, as applicable) from at least two major rating agencies, or if rated by only one major rating agency, is rated within the top rating category by that agency; or
 B. Is rated in the top long-term rating category (e.g., AA or above) by at least two major rating agencies, or if rated by only one major rating agency, is rated within the top rating category by that agency.

Should you have any questions as to whether your local unit may benefit from this programmatic change, please speak to your financial advisor and/or counsel.
 
 
I-bank Investment Policy Amendment
 
New Jersey's Infrastructure Bank (I-bank) has amended its Investment Policy to permit the I-Bank to invest in local government unit Bond Anticipation Notes (BANs) in certain circumstances. The BAN purchase program is a limited and specialized resource made available only to address failed sales occurring during BAN rollovers. This program is designed to ensure solvency and fiscal stability for New Jersey's local units, providing protection against potential defaults during the present liquidity crisis. Its general terms are as follows:
I.   The program is of limited duration, authorized only during a period in which the Governor has declared a State of Emergency.
II.  Only those BAN rollovers that require assistance due to failed sales, as defined by I-bank, may participate.
III. Members from the I-Bank, Treasurer's Office, and Financial Advisor to the I-Bank shall determine the appropriate amount of available funds / liquidity to be invested.
IV.  There will be sector, issue, and credit limits, interest rate guidelines, and a maturity limit of 90 days for any BAN submitted for consideration.
V.   The Director of the Division of Investments in the Department of Treasury must approve the purchase of any BAN through the program.

The I-Bank, Director of DLGS, and Treasury Department will  implement the Program. Please contact the I-bank with any questions about this program.
 

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Division of Fire Safety COVID-19 Guidance 2020-06 - 03/27/2020

Local Operational Guidance- Covid-19 - 2020-06

The Division of Fire Safety in the Department of Community Affairs has issued new COVID-19-related guidance to local enforcing agencies. Please access https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dfs/ to review the new guidance.

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New Remote Public Meetings Guidance - 03/23/2020

The Division of Local Government Services has issued new local operational guidance to assist local units in conducting remote public meetings. To ensure continuity of government operations while maintaining the necessary social distance to avoid the spread of COVID-19, the Division issues this guidance document (link below) to remind local government officers and employees of the options available to assist them in conducting virtual and telephonic public meetings, as well as to reiterate the continuing obligation of local units to comply with the Open Public Meetings Act.

https://nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/pdf/GovConnectNotice-NewRemotePublicMeetingsGuidance.pdf

 

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Updated: 07/15/2020