By: Henry T. Chou, Esq.

On June 23, 2011, Governor Christie conditionally vetoed S-2006/A-3125, which would have amended the Municipal Land Use Law (“MLUL”) to generally prohibit municipalities from regulating the installation of solar panels on residential properties and to limit the amount of fees municipalities may charge for applications pertaining to solar panel installations. The bill was business-friendly insofar it would have made it easier and cheaper for homeowners to install solar panels.

Governor Christie’s conditional veto message recommended the full preservation of a municipality’s zoning powers, while seeking to strike a balance between it and the State’s policy of promoting renewable energy sources. Specifically, the Governor recommended the removal of Section 1 of the bill, which would have restricted municipal zoning powers pertaining to solar panel installations, and proposed new language to clarify that municipalities may charge reasonable fees consistent with the MLUL and to clarify the definition of a “photovoltaic solar panel.”

By way of the conditional veto, the bill is now returned to the Legislature for consideration of the Governor’s recommendations.