On January 16, 2010, the New Jersey legislature adopted a bundle of laws to promote renewable energy development in New Jersey. Among the laws adopted was an amendment to the Agricultural Retention and Development Act (the “Act”) to permit the installation and operation of biomass, solar or wind energy generation facilities on preserved farmland. A preserved farmland is a farm in which the landowner has conveyed a development easement to the State Agricultural Development Committee (“SADC”) or other governmental instrumentality, such as a county, or to a private not-for-profit entity, such as a land trust. By conveying a development easement to the SADC or such other entity, the landowner covenants that the preserved farm will only be used for agricultural purposes. This restriction runs with the land and is binding on all future owners of the property. » Read the rest of this entry «
On April 22, 2010, Governor Christie signed into law S-921 – new legislation designed to facilitate solar panel development and, more broadly, to fortify New Jersey’s position as a green energy leader.
Under this new legislation, S-921, solar panels are now exempt from zoning limitations on impervious cover – a planning term for hard surfaces such as buildings and driveways, that prevent water from absorbing into the ground. On solar panels, municipalities have been contradictory in their impervious cover requirements, with some treating solar panels as impervious. S-921 addresses this inconsistency – solar panels cannot be restricted through impervious coverage limitations. Note that the base or foundation of a solar panel may still be regulated as impervious cover. » Read the rest of this entry «
In June, I reported that the New Jersey Legislature proposed a bill (S1202/A3062) that would add the definition of an “inherently beneficial use” to the Municipal Land Use Law and expand the inherently beneficial use status to include wind, solar and photovoltaic facilities. The legislation has been adopted and the following definitions now apply:
“Inherently beneficial use” means a use which is universally considered of value to the community because it fundamentally serves the public good and promotes the general welfare. Such a use includes, but is not limited to, a hospital, school, child care center, group home, or a wind, solar or photovoltaic energy facility or structure.
“Wind, solar or photovoltaic energy facility or structure” means a facility or structure for the purpose of supplying electrical energy produced from wind, solar, or photovoltaic technologies, whether such facility or structure is a principal use, a part of the principal use, or an accessory use or structure.
The Department of Environmental Protection is proposing amendments to the Coastal Permit Program rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7, which contain the coastal general permits and the permits-by-rule. Under this proposal, the Department is proposing a new permit-by-rule and two new coastal general permits for the construction of wind turbines on land; a new permit-by-rule for the construction of solar panels; and is describing the situations in which construction of a wind turbine or solar panel does not require a coastal permit. The Department is also proposing amendments to the Coastal Zone Management rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7E, to facilitate the construction of wind turbines in the coastal zone in appropriate locations. » Read the rest of this entry «
In an attempt to promote renewable energy, the New Jersey Legislature has proposed a bill (S1303/A3062) that would add the definition of an “inherently beneficial use” to the Municipal Land Use Law and expand the inherently beneficial use status to wind, solar and photovoltaic facilities. The concept of an inherently beneficial use was created by the courts to lessen the extremely difficult standard of proof required to obtain a use variance where the use being proposed was, by its very nature, beneficial to the community, such as a school or hospital. In 1997, the concept made its way into the Municipal Land Use Law in order to resolve some ambiguities with the variance standard that was being applied by Zoning Boards, although no definition of an inherently beneficial use has yet appeared in existing statutory law. » Read the rest of this entry «
After just a few weeks, it is clear that the Obama Administration has ambitious plans for the green building industry. The recently passed economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”), contains over $25 billion in funding for energy efficiency in federal buildings, schools and homes—a sizeable sum, though somewhat less than in earlier versions of the bill. The President has also sent strong signals that the Federal Government intends to play an active role in raising efficiency standards and incentivizing green building in the private sector; in fact, even more green building legislation is already on the table. This “Green Rush” could present enormous economic opportunities for developers, contractors and building owners. Of course, with opportunity comes risk, including a number of legal hurdles and pitfalls that companies and industries must avoid as they jockey for position in the upcoming Green Rush. » Read the rest of this entry «
On March 31, 2009, Governor Corzine signed into law The Residential Development Solar Energy Systems Act, which will require developers to provide more information and options regarding renewable energy to potential buyers. The Act applies to residential developments with 25 or more units (that are owner occupied) and requires the developer to include information on solar energy systems and the specific costs in the developer’s advertisements. Click here to view the Pamphlet Law
The Legislature has adopted a Bill (A 2550/ S 1299) that permits certain renewable energy facilities in areas zoned for industrial use. A “renewable energy facility” is defined as a facility that engages in the production of electric energy from solar technologies, photovoltaic technologies or wind energy. Specifically, the Bill provides that a renewable energy facility is deemed to be a permitted use in industrial districts on land comprising 20 or more contiguous acres. Click here to view the Pamphlet Law.