Private New Jersey Colleges Seek Land Use Parity

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
October 5, 2012

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Public colleges in New Jersey have been exempt from local zoning rules for decades. A bill making its way through the Legislature would give private colleges and universities in the Garden State the same land-use privileges.

John Wilson is president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities  in New Jersey. He says the measure would streamline the building process for private colleges by avoiding local approval delays that can last for years.

“The procedural aspect and the experts and the legal fees etcetera cut into the cost of projects and also those delays accelerate the construction costs."

Officials in many of the towns where the private colleges are located don’t want the change.

Yina Moore is the Mayor of Princeton Borough. She says exempting private colleges and universities from local zoning jurisdiction would not allow for balanced community planning.

“There are certainly projects that are perhaps much bigger in scale than our community and its character can actually bear. There’s some incompatibility.”

The state Senate approved the legislation in June. It’s still awaiting action in the Assembly. Higher education committee chairwoman Celeste Riley says amendments may be needed to deal with the towns' concerns.


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