RARITAN TWP PLANNING BOARD BEING PRESSURED TO APPROVE WAWA SITE AGAINST RESIDENTS WISHES – part one who sits on this board and what are their responsibilities.

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On April 26, 2017, at 7 p.m. the Raritan Twp Planning Board will most likely be voting on an application by WAWA to put in a grocery mart and gas station abutting a residential neighborhood in Raritan Twp. Residents are up in arms and believe that the Planning Board is folding to corporate pressure by considering variances and improper usage on the property.

For the next five days before the vote The Hunterdon County News will be providing background information on the issue. Today we will show you exactly who is on this board, should you want to reach out to them with your opinion, and what their responsibilities are as board members so that you may informed on the issue.


Planning Board

Jeff Kuhl                     Chairman

Mike Mangin                Township Liaison

Karen Gilbert                Class I

Michelle Cavalchire      Class IV – Environmental

Ed Gettings                  Class II

Donna Drewes              Class IV

Judy DiGiandamenico     Class IV

James Miller                  Alternate 1

Scott MacDade                   Alternate #2

John Belardo                 Attorney

And in case you would like to reach out to your twp committee members you can get to them here –

Members of the Twp Committee:

Karen Gilbert, Mayor – karen.gilbert@raritantwpnj.gov

Michael Mangin, Deputy Mayor – mike.mangin@raritantwpnj.gov

Richard Chen, Committee Member, richard.chen@raritantwpnj.gov

Craig O’Brien, Committee Member – craig.obrien@raritantwpnj.gov

Lou Reiner, Committee Member, louis.reiner@raritantwpnj.gov


Karen Gilbert –     Historians, Finance, Personnel, Planning Board (Class I – Mayor)

Richard Chen –     Finance, Open Space, Parks & Recreation

Michael Mangin – Planning Board (Class II – Governing Body), RTMUA

Craig O’Brien –    Open Space

Louis Reiner –      Environmental Commission/Green Team, Fire/Rescue/OEM

Thanks to Carl Peters For the following informAtion


Duties of the Planning Board under the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL)

Under New Jersey Law, the Planning Board has rather broad responsibilities beginning with the development of a vision of how the municipality should be developed to offering guidance to the governing body about the merits of proposed ordinances to review of applications for site plans and subdivisions as enumerated below.

Prepare the Master Plan

The planning board may prepare and, after public hearing, adopt or amend a master plan to guide the use of lands within the municipality in a manner which protects public health and safety and promotes the general welfare. The land use element of the master plan will become the basis for the local zoning ordinance.

Subdivision Control and Site Plan Review

The governing body may, by ordinance, require the approval of subdivision plats and site plans by resolution of the planning board. One- and two-family dwellings are exempt from the requirement for site plan approval. In cases where a type “d” variance is required, the zoning board will have jurisdiction over site plan and subdivision approval.

The standards for subdivision and site plan approval must be established in the land use or zoning ordinance. The State of New Jersey has established Residential Site Improvement Standards that supersede local ordinances for residential development projects.

Zoning Ordinance

Whenever the governing body wishes to adopt or change any provision of the land use ordinance, it must seek comments from the planning board. Prior to adoption the governing body must review the planning board’s recommendations. The governing body may vote to override the planning board’s recommendations, but a larger number of votes may be required.

Variances and Conditional Use Approval

When the planning board is reviewing an application for subdivision or site plan approval, it may also grant relief from the zoning ordinance requirements, such as:

  • Variances pursuant to NJSA 40:55D-70 c., generally known as bulk variances.
  • Permission to build on a lot without street frontage.
  • Conditional use authorization, when specifically required by the zoning ordinance.

They may not hear applications requiring relief from NJSA 40:55D-70 d. These responsibilities are reserved for the board of adjustment.



The New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law gives a municipal Zoning Board some important responsibilities; it is the quasi-judicial body that must decide whether a request to “break the local zoning rules” provides warranted relief for the applicant while not harming the neighborhood.

Hear Appeals of Decisions Made by the Administrative Officer

Whenever a party believes that the administrative officer has made a mistake in enforcing the zoning ordinance, they may appeal the issue to the zoning board of adjustment.

Interpret the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map

The zoning board is empowered to hear and decide requests for interpretation of the zoning ordinance or map.

Hear Requests for “c” Variances

The zoning board may approve c (1) variances, which are related to the unusual shape, topography or physical features on a lot and are often referred to as hardship variances. The zoning board may also grant c (2) variances, when it believes that the purposes of the Municipal Land Use Law would be advances by the proposed deviation from the strict standards of the zoning ordinance.

Generally, the zoning board of adjustment will be reviewing these types of variance with regard to one- and two-family dwellings. The zoning board only hears site plan and subdivision applications when a “d” variance is required. Such an application may include requests for both “c” and “d” variances.

Hear Requests for “d” Variances

The zoning board of adjustment is the body that is authorized to grant variances for:

  • The use or principal structure in a district regulated against such use or building.
  • An expansion of a nonconforming use.
  • Deviation from the standards for a conditional use.
  • An increase in the permitted floor area.
  • An increase in permitted density.
  • The height of a principal structure that exceeds by 10 feet or 10% the height permitted in the district for a principal structure.

Approval of a “d” variance requires five “yes” votes.

Hear Applications for Site Plan or Subdivision Approval When “d” Variances Are Required.

In most cases, the planning board hears applications for site plan and subdivision approval. If the application requires a “d” variance, the zoning board of adjustment will hear the entire application.