Zoning in Summit
Thursday, February 21, 2013 • 12:20pm
Bob Faszczewski’s report on my comments made at the Summit Council meeting on February 19 needs further explanation.
Your readers should understand that the subject is complicated due to the nature of land use zoning laws and regulations. The issue of a ZCO, Zoning Certificate of Occupancy is even more difficult to navigate since it involves the UCC or Uniform Commercial Code for building construction.
Summit has a ZCO ordinance. It requires and application be made prior to “sale, rental, or for change of occupant or occupancy type for all buildings or individual building units” This reference is found on the Summit City website.
Similar communities don’t follow this practice for good reason. It is my opinion that use of the ZCO should be eliminated since it lives in “no man’s land” between zoning/ land use rules and UCC rules. You should get a written zoning permit (an answer to the question of permissible use) then a C of O (is the building sound).
An annual published guide called the “New Jersey Zoning & Land Use Administration is a reference to land use guidelines and case law. I’m not an attorney and I don’t advise anyone on legal matters, but a layman’s reading of the Land Use Regulation, an Overview section calls into question the validity of any ordinance which requires a “certificate of occupancy” before a sale of residential property.
The second part of my comments covered information found in Summit’s Department of Community’s summary report of activity in the Construction office. This summary shows the extremely high volume of plans submitted and subsequent inspections performed each year. The department report shows that over 3,000 plans are submitted for review (so permits can be issued, so contractors can go to work) and the subsequent number of inspections. Total building inspections including the current ZCO inspections are more than 10,500 a year by their report. Unfortunately, there is a limited number of days available to get this work done.
It is my belief that Summit is not in danger of running out of economic activity; it runs out of time.
Any effort by City Council to eliminate delays and to better monitor a high volume of activity that potentially keeps people from going to work and projects from being completed is time and money well spent.