A Guide to Virtually Planning Board Meetings

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On April 2, 2020 New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) issued guidance to help local land use boards (Planning and Zoning Boards) proceed with their business during this time.  Most importantly, the documents reaffirmed the pre-COVID statutory timelines in which the boards need to act.

In short- not only did it allow them to continue to conduct their business, but also it required them to do so.

This document also addressed how businesses should handle application materials, public notice, and public participation. Finally, it provided guidance on how  meetings should be conducted.

Having testified in 4 of these meetings in the past month, WJH has learned a few tips from our experiences. These will be helpful for Applicants as well as Professionals for future meetings:

  • Not all meetings are the same. Most, but not all include video.  Our President, Walt Hopkin, recently was dressed in a jacket and tie, only to find out the meeting was audio only.  Some meetings allow the professionals to present material; however, some are controlled by the administrative clerk.

 

  • Be prepared for the unexpected. At another meeting, Walt had to take over as the Attorney, Applicant and Engineer.  Connection problems prevented the client and their attorney from connecting their audio to the meeting.

 

  • Be familiar with the technology. WebEx and Zoom seem to be the front runners.  Make sure you have the latest version of the software installed and configured correctly.

 

  • Consider turning off your video until it is your time to participate. This will help you avoid forgetting you are on camera and doing something embarrassing.  Definitely mute your microphone until you are ready to present.

 

If you have any questions regarding what to expect- feel free to contact us at info@wjhengineering.com or 732-223-1313.

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