Land Use

Jefferson Township merged its Planning Board and Board of Adjustment into a single Land Use Board in January of 2020. The Land Use Board is made up of 13 members; 6 citizens, 4 alternates, the Mayor, an Official of the Municipality, and one Council Person. 

The Land Use Board is responsible for generating and updating a community’s Master Plan. Other functions of the board involve subdivision and site plan review, creation of the official map and associated zoning ordinances and review of the capital improvements program for the Township. The board is also empowered to review and approve "C" variances (departures from zoning ordinances) in conjunction with development applications. The Land Use Board is involved in review of other state or federal programs or plans. The Board also assembles data for planning purposes and performs other advisory duties upon request by the Township Council & Township Administration.

Master Plan

The Master Plan is a comprehensive, long-range plan intended to guide the growth and development of a community. It contains elements that provide:

  • Community facilities
  • Future economic development
  • Housing
  • Land use
  • Open space
  • Recreation
  • Transportation

Land Use Plan

A primary element of the Master Plan is the Land Use Plan. This element serves as the basis for development of the Township’s zoning ordinances, a set of local regulations that provides for controls on how the land in Jefferson is developed, occupied or utilized. The Land Use Plan is also implemented through a zoning map of zone categories as recommended in the Land Use Plan. Some areas in the Township have been upgraded in zoning protections due to extensive wetlands, environmental issues and/or lack of sewer service in the area.

Zoning Ordinances

The board is heavily involved in reviewing major subdivisions and site plans and finalizing the land use regulations that will support the zoning ordinances of the community. Subdivision review is required whenever any lot, tract or parcel of land is divided into two or more lots, tracts and parcels. Site plan reviews are required when someone proposes development for anything other than an individual lot application for detached one or two dwelling units.

Public Inspection

Plans for development are available for public inspection in the Land Use Department located at the Municipal Building. The Land Use Board meets on the fourth Monday of each month. Public participation is always encouraged and welcomed at these meetings.


There are various types of variance applications under the jurisdiction of the Land Use Board. One variance is called an "A" variance. This type of application is filed when an applicant believes that the Township's Zoning Officer has erred in denying a request for a permit, Certificate of Occupancy (CO) or Zoning Approval Certificate. The Land Use Board will take testimony and decide a case based on proofs presented. 

The Land Use Board is also responsible for interpretations of the zoning ordinance and the zoning map on questions related to whether or not a specific use is permitted. This type of variance is called a "B" variance.


The most common type of variance heard is a variance from the bulk and dimensional requirements of the ordinance, referred to as a "C" variance or "bulk" variance. This is a commonly requested variance in town, generally associated with construction of single-family dwellings, accessory structures and additions. When building or expanding, a "C" variance may be needed because of existing constraints on the property, size, area, shape or topographic conditions which may prevent compliance with the zoning regulations for that property. The Board then makes decisions based on documents and proofs submitted, the neighborhood setting, nature of request and many other reasons. The Board averages two to four "C" variances monthly.


The Board also must deal with those applications for variances where a use is not specifically permitted in the zone. This is called a "D" or "use" variance. There are six different kinds of "D" variances, but the most common "D" variance is generally a request for a use not permitted in a zone or expansion of a non-conforming use (an existing use which under today's regulations, would not be permitted in the existing zone).

More Information

For additional information on Land Use Boards, please visit the New Jersey Planning Officials site.