A bill is making its way through the New Jersey State Legislature that would exempt private colleges like Princeton University, Rider University and Princeton Theological Seminary from following local land use regulations.
If the bill passes, private colleges and universities across the state would no longer need local planning board and zoning approvals for projects like Princeton University’s $300 million arts and transit neighborhood.
The bill would give private nonprofit colleges the same status as state colleges and schools. Public colleges and universities currently are exempt from local zoning jurisdiction and are only required to consult with local authorities regarding institutional developments.
“Independent institutions, because of their status as private non-profit entities, are subject to local zoning controls by the municipalities in which they are located, and must obtain approval from those local authorities for all campus development,” reads the Senate bill, S1534. “The approval process often can be quite time consuming and expensive. This results in the delay of important educational programs and facilities for students attending the institutions as well as the diversion of critical funding away from educational purposes.”
The Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee is reviewing the bill today. An Assembly committee could consider the bill as early as next week and the bill could be passed as early as the end of the month.
The bill is being sponsored by Senators Paul Sarlo of the 36th District (representing Bergen and Passaic counties) and Robert Singer of the 30th District. (representing Monmouth and Ocean counties).