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Process Overview

Process for Private Development Applications
Process for Public Development Applications

The Pinelands Area is a million-acre mosaic of forests, farms and towns that lies above trillions of gallons of water. Nearly 500,000 people call the Pinelands home, and the region provides refuge for 135 rare plant and animal species.

As a critical part of its mission to safeguard the Pinelands, the Pinelands Commission is charged with overseeing land use and development in this special part of southern New Jersey.

Commission staff members review public and private applications for development, evaluating proposals by using scientifically-based standards to ensure that the Pinelands’ ecological health is protected. Development proposals must meet a series of environmental standards, such as those that protect water quality, wetlands and threatened and endangered species, among other standards.

The Commission’s development approval process varies, depending on whether the application is submitted by a public agency or a private landowner.

Certain types of development do not require an application to the Commission. These activities are listed in the Application Exemptions.

If the development requires an application to the Commission, applicants must submit a completed application form, fee (if required), and any other application materials to:

The Pinelands Commission
P.O. Box 359
New Lisbon, NJ 08064

The Commission’s staff will contact applicants with instructions regarding any additional application materials that may be required. Alternatively, applicants can submit a written request by mail or by email to for a pre-application meeting to discuss potential application requirements.


Process for Private Development Applications

The Commission’s staff reviews applications for private development proposals, such as single-family dwellings, subdivisions and commercial projects, to ensure that they meet a series of standards aimed at protecting Pinelands resources.

How does the process work?

First, the Commission’s staff determines whether an applicant has provided all of the information needed to review their proposal. This information varies by site and proposal, and may include an application form, site plans, reports or other documents. If all of the information has been provided, the Commission staff will send the applicant a document (most commonly, this will be a Certificate of Filing) that enables him or her to seek all necessary municipal and county approvals for the proposed development. The Commission staff will inform the applicant of any conditions or regulatory standards that must be met or addressed before the applicant receives final approval.

After the applicant receives any municipal or county approvals, copies of those approvals must be sent to the Commission. (The submission checklist contains details about the information that must be included for each type of approval). The Commission staff will then determine if the approved development meets all Pinelands standards. If it does, the Commission staff will send the applicant a letter confirming that the agency’s review is complete and the permit or approval can take effect.

Some Pinelands municipalities participate in the Commission’s Local Review Officer program. In these municipalities, applicants who are proposing to build a single-family dwelling on an existing lot should send their applications directly to the municipality, rather than to the Commission. The Commission maintains a list of these municipalities.

Some applications may not meet all of the Commission’s land use or environmental standards. In these instances, the Commission staff sends applicants information on how to apply for a “Waiver of Strict Compliance.”


Process for Public Development Applications

The Pinelands Commission is also responsible for reviewing and approving development applications that are submitted by public entities, such as a municipality, county or a State agency.

The full, 15-member Commission must vote on whether to approve these applications during their monthly meetings. The Commission maintains a list of Public Development Submission Deadlines that provides important information about application submission deadlines. The list also details the possible date by which the Commission could vote on these applications.

The public is encouraged to comment on public development applications. Information about the status of these applications and the Commission’s process for commenting on public development applications can be found on the Status Reports page.