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Zoning Code

The Plainfield Land Use Ordinance has been in existence in its current form since 2002 and was last updated in 2014. The Downtown regulations are very flexible, allowing for 6 stories in total height in most of the Downtown and up to 100 dwelling units permitted per acre. The North Avenue Historic District has additional restrictions in order to keep the character and historic stock of the District intact. Get familiar with Plainfield's requirements and expectations with the City Master Plan, Land Use Ordinance, Urban Enterprise Zone Design Guidelines and Historic Sites and Districts Design Guidelines:

Transit Village- The purpose of the Transit Village is to provide the foundation for a complementary mixture of appropriately intensive commercial and high-density residential land uses in close proximity to the downtown train station. The Transit Oriented Development Downtown (TODD) Zones are intended to be pedestrian friendly to create a symbiotic benefit through the provision of an aesthetically improved, vibrant, and commercially active downtown for Plainfield residents and visitors. The TODD Zones consolidate most of the existing zones within an irregularly based one-quarter (1/4) mile distance from the downtown Plainfield train station. The TODD Zones are seven (7) distinct zone districts, with different purposes, that foster formation of an active, thriving downtown appropriately buffered from surrounding lower density residential uses. Related goals include the following: Plainfield was granted Transit Village Status by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) in 2014. The Transit Village status opens the area within the district up to grants, awards, and technical help from various state agencies, such as NJ Transit, NJDOT, and the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). The Transit Village has the following goals:

  • To increase the use of the downtown train station by providing for a concentrated mix of retail, office, residential, public and open space uses that are within walking distance of each other and the train station for shoppers, commuters, residents, employees and visitors;

  • To revitalize the downtown train station area by providing for land uses that generate train ridership and enhance economic activity and vitality during day and evening use;

  • To improve the appearance and safety of the downtown from the transit corridor to attract shoppers and visitors;

  • To encourage a safe, efficient, user friendly, and environmentally conscious pedestrian and bicycle oriented system linked to transit use;

  • To encourage public and private investment and thereby improve the tax base of the City;

  • To provide transit supportive and user-friendly site-design guidelines;

  • To preserve and maintain residential neighborhoods in and adjacent to the zones;

  • To advance the development of the Green Brook walkway through the area and to add a linkage between the train station and Green Brook through physical and visual connections;

  • To address existing and future parking needs of residents, businesses, shoppers and commuters;

  • To develop an improved coordinated, visual streetscape within the zones.

 

Zone Specs

Permitted Uses

Minimum Unit Size- 500SF Studio, 750 SF One-Bedroom, 1000SF Two-Bedroom, 1250 SF Three-Bedroom.

 

Note: All applications that require a board decision are required to have certain amenities for tenants, including laundry facilities in each unit, individual HVAC systems and the above minimum unit sizes among other regulations.

 

Parking- Perhaps one of the hidden features that make Downtown Plainfield so unique is the many municipal parking lots. These surface lots are conveniently located throughout the downtown. The City also has plans to construct a parking deck on East Second Street near Gavett Place, which is located in the midst of the redeveloping areas, East Second Street and North Avenue. The City requires developers to purchase parking permit passes for each residential unit at one space per unit. If your development will be a mixed-use or full commercial building, the amount of parking depends on what the use will be. There are also provisions in the ordinance for the city to make a public fund available for developers to make contributions to the new parking garage once it gets closer to construction.

 

 

Redevelopment Areas- Plainfield has three redevelopment plans Downtown that were created in the late 1990's and early 2000's that are still in existence. The municipality generally does not push these redevelopment plans since the rezoning in 2014 as the new zones already have the less restrictive regulations that the city desires. This gives developers a much faster track to an approval with fewer caveats. However, in the event that a developer wants to develop in an existing redevelopment plan area, the rules of that redevelopment area still applies and overrides the zoning ordinance. 

Technical Review Committee (TRC)- The Plainfield Technical Review Committee tests the readiness of applications for Board hearings. The goal of the committee is to make it easier for applicants to move past the boards with little adjustments, as all the adjustments the city may require will be handled by the TRC beforehand. The committee is made up of professionals from the Planning, Economic Development, Police, Fire, Engineering, and Public Works offices in conjunction with the public sewage, garbage and recycling utility, PMUA; and the developer.

Historic Preservation Commission- Developers that wish to develop in the North Avenue or Civic Historic District only go in front of the Historic Preservation Commission if they propose changes to the exterior of the structure (including trim, windows, and exterior doors). Windows and doors are required to be wood in historic districts. The Historic Preservation Commission meets once per month on Tuesdays at 7:30p in City Hall Library. The schedule can be found here. There's also structures Downtown that are not located in these two districts that still fall within the preview of the Historic Preservation Commission. A list of those structures can be found below. If your address is NOT listed, you do not need Historic Preservation approval:

North Avenue Historic District

 

PILOT Agreements- The City of Plainfield has offered PILOT agreements, or Payments In Lieu Of Taxes, to developers in the past and has explored the option on previous projects. All PILOT Agreements are accepted only at the discretion of the City Council. As a general rule, PILOTs are oftentimes only given to developers that can thoroughly demonstrate hardship and unfeasibility without the agreement. Each project's worthiness is judged by the City and takes into account the improvements promised by the project along with tax implications for the property over the span of the PILOT.

Boards and Commissions- Developers that propose changes to a building or its uses oftentimes have to come before a development board, either the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA). If you are proposing a use that is not permitted, your application will be heard by the ZBA. If you are proposing a use that is permitted, but you are proposing a change of use or your proposal does not meet the bulk regulations, the Planning Board will hear your application. The Board generally asks for improvements at the hearings and ensures the proposal will not be a detriment to the public, but an improvement that forwards the City's development philosophy of walkability, bikeability and access to transit. Examples of improvements often sought include: parking lot improvement, fixing sidewalks, planting trees, off-site improvement contributions, utility upgrades, and removal of signs. The Shade Tree Commission generally guides applicants with recommendations on the proper tree species. Visit the Planning Division online below:

If you would like more information on zoning regulations, filing a board application, or presenting a concept plan to a board or commission for suggestions, contact the Plainfield Planning Division at (908) 753-3391.