Zoning & Land Use Regulations Update

The Planning Board has been working with staff support of the Department of Planning & Community Development to amend the Zoning Ordinance and implement many of the recommendations of the Unified Land Use & Circulation Element of the Township Master Plan

The Planning Board's Zoning Subcommittee, along with two members of the Board of Adjustment, has worked to develop the initial draft of the new ordinance and revised zoning maps.  These first draft materials were presented to the Planning Board at their meeting on November 27, 2017.  At the links below, please find the materials presented to the Planning Board for review at the November 27 meeting:

Discussion on the Draft Zoning and Land Use Regulation will continue at the Planning Board's December 18 meeting.  Please see the Planning Board agenda for more information.

Below is a detailed summary of changes to the Zoning and Land Use Regulations Ordinance presented to the Planning Board on November 27:

Consolidation of Land Use Regulation Chapters

Under the draft prepared by the Planning Board's Zoning Subcommittee, the Zoning & Land Use Regulations have been restructured to reduce duplication and cross-referencing as well as to consolidate all land use regulations into one revised Chapter.  Five separate chapters of the current Montclair Code have been consolidated into the new Chapter for Zoning & Land Use Regulations.  

The draft Chapter 347: Zoning & Land Use Regulations consists of following structure:
  • Article I: General Provisions
  • Article II: Zoning Districts, Rules and Regulations
  • Article III: Supplementary Zoning Regulations
  • Article IV: Historic Preservation
  • Article V: Inclusionary Zoning
  • Article VI: Stormwater Control (formerly Chapter 295)
  • Article VII: Site Plan Design Requirements (formerly Chapter 281)
  • Article VIII: Subdivision Design Requirements (formerly Chapter 301)
  • Article IX:  Land Use Procedures (formerly Chapter 202)
  • Article X: Administration, Enforcement, Violations and Penalties

Note that aside from changing location within Montclair Code, no other changes to the current text of Articles IV through X listed above are proposed as part of the Zoning & Land Use Procedures Update.  Text changes are confined to Articles I through III only.

Ordinance Restructuring

The draft Chapter 347: Zoning & Land Use Regulations has restructured Article II - Zoning Districts, Rules & Regulations and Article III - Supplementary Zoning Regulations to provide more clarity and consistency.  

The restructuring has eliminated the existing "layered" structure of bulk regulations in the current Zoning chapter.  Under the current framework, bulk regulations are referred across zone districts, creating a cumbersome reference process to determine regulations.  The new Chapter now has unique zone regulations for each zone district, creating a clearer reference for users.

In addition, tables of allowed uses in commercial and residential districts have been added to more clearly display principal, accessory, conditional and not allowed uses.  Also, special use standards are provided with code section references.


Master Plan Recommendations - Commercial Zones

The proposed update to the Zoning & Land Use Procedures Chapter includes a revision to the naming of existing Zone Districts.  The re-naming intends to better communicate permitted development heights, in number of stories, through each commercial district name.  Below are the proposed commercial Zone District name revisions:

Existing Zone District  Proposed Zone District 
C-1: Central Business - Center Area CBD-4C: Central Business Center - 4 Stories
C-1: Central Business - Community Area CBD-4E: Central Business Edge - 4 Stories
C-2: General Business & Light Manufacturing CI-3: General Business & Light Manufacturing - 3 Stories
C-3: Central Business CBD-3: Central Business - 3 Stories
N-C: Neighborhood Commercial NCD-3: Neighborhood Commercial - 3 Stories
OR-3: Garden Apartment & Office Building ORM-2: Garden Apartment & Office Building - 2 Stories
OR-4: Three Story Apartment and Office Building ORM-3: Three Story Apartment and Office Building

Beyond renaming of the commercial zones, changes have been made to following zone districts as recommended in the Unified Land Use & Circulation Element of the Township Master Plan:
  • CBD-4C & CBD-4E
    • The maximum permitted height in these zones is now 4 stories; previously as the C-1 zone, the maximum permitted height was 6 stories.
    • No maximum residential density for lots under 20,000 square feet that exist as of the date of adoption of this ordinance to promote adaptive re-use.
    • All street-facing facades above the third story shall together be stepped back at least ten (10) feet with respect to the facades of the lower stories.
  • CBD-3
    • Maximum building coverage for commercial and multi-family uses is now 75%
  • NCD-3
    • Maximum building coverage for commercial and multi-family uses is now 75%
  • ORM-2H
    • A new variant of the ORM-2 zone district for the historic properties on the north side of Claremont Avenue between North Mountain Avenue & Valley Road.  The zone will permit office uses if the existing residential structure is maintained. Any addition to the existing structure must not be visible from a public street and must adhere to the Design Guidelines adopted by the Historic Preservation Commission.

Residential Zones

Only minor changes to residential zones have been made as part of the update to the Zoning and Land Use Regulations.  As part of the update, a comprehensive review of the minimum lot frontage requirement was completed in context of existing lot frontages.  This review resulted in consolidation of minimum lot frontages and establishment of new 40 foot minimum lot frontage areas.  See the Draft Zoning and Land Use Regulations PowerPoint presentation and the Draft Zoning Maps for a detailed review of the update.  

Other changes to the residential zones are as follows:
  • The following sentence was added to the lot frontage requirements in the R-1 and R-2 zones: “Existing lots under separate ownership with lesser frontages at the time this ordinance is adopted are permitted.”
  • The minimum lot depth and minimum side yard requirements for properties in the R-1(40) and R-2(40) districts have been reduced to 100 feet and 4 feet, respectively. This reduces the number of nonconforming residential lots.
  • The current zoning ordinance permits a single-family dwelling to include an accessory dwelling units for parents. The revised ordinance expands this section to allow accessory dwelling units for caregivers and dependent children as part of its aging in place initiative. The intent is to make it easier for senior citizens to remain in their homes.

Allowable Uses

The draft Zoning and Land Use Regulations incorporate the following changes to uses in some zone districts, detailed below:

  • Cemeteries have been added as a conditional use in the R-1 zones.
  • Educational or quasi-educational establishments, educational play centers and fitness centers have been changed to a conditional use in the CBD, CI and NCD zones, with the condition that they may be located on the first floor only if the space occupying the use does not front on a public street.
  • Funeral homes have been added as a permitted use in the ORM districts.
  • Body art studios, limited breweries and brewpubs have been defined and added as a permitted use in the CBD, CI and NCD districts.
  • Movie and recording studios are a permitted use on all but the first floor in the CBD and NCD districts and a permitted use on all floors in the CI district.