A Model Statewide Municipal Electric Vehicle (EV) Ordinance is now in effect throughout New Jersey. The ordinance was mandated under a new law, S-3223 (P.L.2021, c.171), requiring that Electric Vehicle Supply/Service Equipment (EVSE) and Make-Ready parking spaces be designated as a permitted accessory use in all zoning or use districts in New Jersey. The law also establishes requirements for the installation of EVSE and make-ready parking spaces in local communities.
New Law Governing EVSE and Make-Ready Parking Spaces
On July 9, 2021, Gov. Phil Murphy signed S-3223 (P.L.2021, c.171) into law. Under the new law, an application for development submitted solely for the installation of EVSE or Make-Ready parking spaces will be considered as-of-right in all zoning or use districts of a municipality. As a result, municipalities can’t characterize these spaces as permitted accessory uses or permitted accessory structures and can’t require a “D” variance.
S-3223 further provides that an application for development for the installation of EVSE or Make-Ready parking spaces at an existing gasoline service station, an existing retail establishment, or any other existing building can’t be subject to site plan or other land use board review, can’t require variance relief or any other law, rule, or regulation, and must be approved through the issuance of a zoning permit by the administrative officer, provided the application meets the following requirements:
- The proposed installation does not violate bulk requirements applicable to the property or the conditions of the original final approval of the site plan or subsequent approvals for the existing gasoline service station, retail establishment, or other existing building;
- All other conditions of prior approvals for the gasoline service station, the existing retail establishment, or any other existing building continue to be met; and
- The proposed installation complies with the construction codes adopted in or promulgated pursuant to the "State Uniform Construction Code Act," any safety standards concerning the installation, and any State rule or regulation concerning electric vehicle charging stations.
The new law also required the Commissioner of Community Affairs, within 30 days of enactment, to publish a model land use ordinance to address installation, sightline, and setback requirements and other health- and safety-related specifications for electric vehicle supply equipment and Make-Ready parking spaces. The model land use ordinance was not required to go through the Administrative Procedure Act’s rulemaking process.
As highlighted by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), the intent of the model statewide ordinance is to ensure that municipalities are requiring installation of EVSE and Make-Ready parking spaces in a consistent manner and also to provide an ordinance that can be easily used by every municipality with no or minimal amendments by the municipality.
Model Statewide Municipal Electric Vehicle Ordinance
On September 1, 2021, DCA published the Model Statewide Municipal Electric Vehicle Ordinance, which was written with support from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Board of Public Utilities (BPU).
“New Jersey municipalities are on the front lines of the climate crisis, both in responding to its impacts and leading the charge to reduce their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions,” Lt. Governor and DCA Commissioner Sheila Oliver said in a press statement. “This statewide municipal ordinance provides them with consistent guidance on how to make those changes in the most efficient and cost-effective way and is a big step toward ensuring that our communities are ready for a carbon-neutral future.”
The model statewide ordinance is mandatory and became effective in all municipalities upon DCA publication. Municipalities are allowed to make changes to the “Reasonable Standards” portion of the ordinance, such as those related to health and safety factors, through the normal ordinance amendment process. However, they may not change the parts of the ordinance that were required by the legislation, including requirements for municipal approvals and permits, EV-ready development, and minimum parking requirements. For municipalities with existing EV ordinances, the statewide ordinance will supersede those requirements
Key Takeaway for NJ Municipalities
As set forth above, the model ordinance automatically became effective in all New Jersey municipalities on September 1, 2021. Accordingly, municipalities that don’t want to take advantage of the limited options for customizing the ordinance are not required to take any further action to adopt the ordinance.
Given the novelty of the law and the required review process for the installation of EVSE or Make-Ready parking spaces, we encourage municipalities and their zoning officials to work with experienced counsel when reviewing applications. If you have any questions about the new law, we also encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Government Law Group.
If you have questions, please contact us
If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact Don Pepe, Ashley Brinn or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.