Newark Land Use & Zoning Regulations (NZLUR)

Hector partners led drafting and implementation of the first zoning overhaul in over 50 years for Newark, New Jersey, including design of popular education tools and programs to help conflicting constituencies come to negotiated agreements and celebrate their achievements

The February 2015 adoption of Newark Zoning & Land Use Regulations (NZLUR, affectionately known as NUZZ–LER) changed the fundamental rules for building in Newark for its over 400,000 residents and workers. Following a decade of advocacy by residents, community-based organizations, and developers for zoning reform, the Newark Planning Office, led by Hector partner Damon Rich, worked for two years under three mayors to design and implement new regulations for a more sustainable, more prosperous, and more democratic city.

The city’s first comprehensive zoning overhaul since the 1950s, NZLUR eliminates out-of-date uses such as leather tanneries and pool halls and addresses current ones including urban agriculture, wind and solar power installations, and large-format retail. To support Newark’s residential neighborhoods and active manufacturers, NZLUR remaps boundaries, redefines zones, and clarifies manufacturing and industrial definitions for potentially noxious uses. To better control stormwater and prevent combined sewer overflows, NZLUR sets a maximum percentage of pavement and impervious land cover. Replacing previous codes that left design unaddressed, NZLUR uses an innovative combination of Euclidian and form-based codes to establish common-sense standards to leverage Newark’s competitive advantage as a walkable city, including windows, fence heights, and how buildings connect to the street.

NZLUR improves the planning process by using graphics, design, and interactive tools to make the code more accessible for development professionals and laypeople, and includes dozens of procedural improvements to the operations of the Planning Board, Zoning Board, and Landmarks & Historic Preservation Commission. For the first time, applicants are asked to post notice about development applications on the site of proposed developments. By fortifying the public planning process, NZLUR produces higher-quality development that better serves the city and increases its value. The American Planning Association New Jersey Chapter awarded NZLUR Outstanding Implemented Plan of 2015.

The constituency for zoning reform, critical to NZLUR’s adoption, was strengthened by the development and deployment of the Newark Zoning Workshop, a set of interactive educational activities hosted by community-based organizations and in other forums. By demystifying the operation and limitations of zoning, more interests were brought into the process. This 2.5-hour workshop introduces the rules for what you can build, where you can build it, and how decisions are made about what gets built in Newark. The American Planning Association awarded the Newark Planning Workshop its 2015 National Planning Award for Public Outreach.

To celebrate Newark’s history of seeking self-determination in land use and development, we worked with the City of Newark and the NJIT College of Architecture and Design to create Dedicated to Every Block in Newark, a traveling exhibition featuring the first scale model showing every block in the city. Groups of residents and NJIT students, over 150 in all, gathered in living rooms and church basements to assemble the 14 foot by 14 foot model and share land use stories and lore. On the occasion of Newark’s 350th anniversary, the model was displayed along with documents from the city’s planning history and artworks by Bisa Washington. At its dedication, local legend Junius Williams used the model to share his experiences organizing for a more democratic city.

American Planning Association New Jersey Chapter Outstanding Implemented Plan, 2016
American Planning Association National Planning Award for Public Outreach, 2015
National Endowment for the Arts Art Works Awardee, 2012, 2016

Newark Zoning & Land Use Regulations Newark Planning Office: Damon Rich, AICP PP, lead author, Michele Alonso, AICP PP, Perris Straughter, AICP PP with support from Jennifer Lee, Natalia O’Neill Vega, Phillips Preiss Grygiel LLC (preliminary coding), and Regional Plan Association (Zenon Tech-Czarny, mapping)

Newark Zoning Workshop Newark Planning Office: Damon Rich with Natalia O’Neill Vega, Perris Straughter, Jae Shin.

People Power Planning Newark is a collaboration between the Newark Planning Office and the NJIT College of Architecture and Design with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Project Directors: Damon Rich, Tony Schuman and Jae Shin