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Posted on: September 20, 2021

Trenton Division of Planning Releases New Land Development Ordinance

Trenton, N.J. – Mayor W. Reed Gusciora today announced that the Trenton Division of Planning is seeking public comment on its draft Land Development Ordinance (LDO), which is the most comprehensive and impactful update for Trenton land use and development in the last 10 years.

“There is no doubt that this ordinance, if adopted, will meaningfully impact the life of every resident and entrepreneur in the Capital City,” said Mayor Gusciora. “This process will not succeed unless your voice is heard. I encourage every concerned Trentonian to take the time to review the plan on the website and tune in for the next planning board meeting on September 23.”

The LDO regulates the location, size, and type of structures and uses allowed within Trenton. The LDO also includes basic design standards for new buildings and regulates parking, signs, accessory structures, and landscaping.

The recently-drafted LDO seeks to help Trenton achieve the long-term vision articulated in Trenton250, a community-driven masterplan that seeks to guide growth and conservation in the city from now to the 250th anniversary of its incorporation in 2042.

The modernized LDO is intuitive and user-friendly, more transparent with development approval, welcomes more by-right development in the city, and sets more flexible standards that will help investors meet community expectations for future development.

The draft plan is available here: Trenton Updated Land Development Ordinance.

The current LDO is obsolete. It contains out-of-date content, inconsistent standards, and insufficient administrative guidance. Additionally, many of the zoning regulations create numerous nonconformities and obstruct the types of development that the community desires. An updated LDO will address these problems, removing unnecessary regulatory hurdles and providing opportunities for Trenton to move toward the vision established in Trenton250.

The proposed LDO outlines six major changes:  

  • Responsive Zoning District Structure: The LDO’s updated district structure better fits the character of the City and works to implement the community vision adopted in Trenton250. An updated Zoning Map has been created based upon careful consideration of future development, as well as on-the-ground conditions and community input.
  • Modern Use Approach: New and updated rules for what can be done in each district are now organized within a single source, making it easier to see permissible locations and uses for each type of property.
  • Updated Site Element Standards: Landscaping and signs are important visual and aesthetic elements, and they play a big role on how a city is perceived. Enhanced landscaping requirements and new sign permissions have been comprehensively addressed within the proposed LDO.
  • Realistic Approach to Parking: A big change in the proposed LDO is the elimination of arbitrary minimum parking requirements in most instances and bases the parking needs on the demand for the site. 
  • Required Bicycle Parking: The proposed LDO requires bicycle parking for certain uses and developments and addresses required amounts and designs of bicycle parking areas.
  • Prioritizing Sustainability: The regulations encourage true mixed-use neighborhoods, reducing the need for daily car use. Paved surface limits are included in the residential districts to help mitigate stormwater and heat island impacts. Electric vehicle parking spaces, solar panels and private wind turbines have been included. The LDO also contains exterior lighting controls on private property to help minimize light pollution in the City. Landscape and tree preservation requirements are also included to beautify the City and create valuable green infrastructure.

The draft will be introduced to the Trenton Planning Board on Sept. 23, 2021. Public comment will go to Nov. 1, 2021. The LDO will then return to the Trenton Planning Board on Nov. 8, 2021 to present findings from the community.

An introductory presentation to Trenton City Council will be scheduled during the public comment period.

The final draft LDO will ultimately be presented before Trenton City Council for approval.

The Division of Planning will attend multiple outreach events throughout the public comment period, including Art All Day and Trenton River Days this weekend.

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