Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces


A Review of the Legal Framework for County Planning in New Jersey

Map Courtesy of

Much of the land-use planning that is done in New Jersey happens at the municipal level. However, counties also have some planning responsibilities. To understand better what county planning boards are authorized to do, New Jersey Future has released County Planning in New Jersey; a Review of Existing Law.

The paper outlines the legal framework – formed by the County Planning Enabling Act, Municipal Land Use Law, and other state legislation and regulation – within which county planning boards operate. In addition, comment sections throughout the paper highlight where the legal framework is unclear or where it appears to be inconsistent with 21st-century planning principles and practice.

County planning has been an option for counties in New Jersey for more than 75 years, with each county implementing the requirements as it sees fit within the given legal framework, often with little visibility. Citizens are likely to be served very differently by county planning boards and staffs depending on the county in which they live, because the staff, responsibilities and relationships with municipalities all vary among the 21 counties. The diversity of county planning capacities will need to be understood as the state relies increasingly on counties as a source of data and coordination with municipalities in creating and implementing state policies and regulations.

This is the first part of a two-part study of county planning, focusing on legal authority. The second part will review current county planning practices.

County Planning in New Jersey; a Review of Existing Law

© New Jersey Future, 16 W. Lafayette St. • Trenton, NJ 08608 • Phone: 609-393-0008 • Fax: 609-360-8478