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Posted on: June 22, 2018

Supreme Court Decides on MLUL TOA Rule

The State Supreme Court released its unanimous decision in Dunbar Homes, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of Franklin Twp. The court decided an application whose required documentation is incomplete does not trigger the time of application rule.

Earlier this week the State Supreme Court released its unanimous decision in Dunbar Homes, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of Franklin Twp., a case which the League participated in as amicus. In short, this case dealt with the Municipal Land Use Law’s (MLUL) Time of Application Rule (TOA), which is used to determine what municipal ordinances govern a land use development application. As the name denotes, this provision of the MLUL provides that the ordinances effective at the time of application are those which the development application must adhere to.
 
Specifically under review in the Dunbar case was the question: when is an application for development considered complete, thus triggering the time of application rule? The Court sided with the zoning board and the League, finding the language of the MLUL unambiguous; an application for development is only complete when all required documents are submitted for review, including all documents required by municipal ordinance. Thus, an application that fails to include all documents required by municipal ordinance is not a complete application and, therefore, the benefits of the TOA rule do not apply.
 
We would like to thank Louis N. Rainone, Esq., of Rainone, Coughlin, Minchello, LLC, who represented Franklin Township, and League Associate Counsel Clifford Gibbons, Esq., who represented the League, for their outstanding work on this matter.
 
You should review this decision with your municipal and zoning board attorneys for further information on how it may impact your municipality.
 
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., League Staff Attorney, FMarshall@njslom.org, 609-695-3481, Ext. 137

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