The Association of Planning Boards & Zoning Boards of Adjustment
NJPO is neither a State agency, nor a professional organization. It was formed by and is still led by the citizen planners, volunteer local residents appointed by mayors and/or municipal governing bodies to serve on planning boards and zoning boards of adjustment. They chart and preserve a community’s quality of life standards.
In 1938, a group of local board members met in West Orange Town Hall to discuss how planning boards across the state could get planning and zoning education. That was the start. The group chose the name “Federation of Official Planning Boards” and published its first newsletter, the New Jersey Planner, in February 1939 to announce that the first State Planning Conference with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities would be held in April. In that same year, the League accepted NJPO as an affiliate. Today, NJPO is the largest League affiliate and the only one not representing an employee or consultant-based entity.
NJPO is a non-profit, 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. It provides educational services, support and information to municipal planning boards, zoning boards of adjustment and elected officials. NJPO depends upon the annual membership of more than 740 municipal and county planning boards and local zoning boards, governing bodies and about 400 professionals and individuals. Total membership exceeds 9,000.
In 1989 NJPO proudly accepted the New Jersey Association of Planning and Zoning Administrators as an affiliate of NJPO. NJAPZA is an educational resource to municipal land use administrators and zoning officers.
NJPO thrives on the volunteer work of dedicated municipal planning board and zoning board of adjustment members. Officers and directors in NJPO must be active on a planning board or zoning board, or have served at least one four year term. In 2005, NJPO was named in legislation to work with the Department of Community Affairs to craft mandatory education standards for board members. Since 2006 almost 9,000 planning officials have been certified through the 5-hour program offered by NJPO.
A solid core of professional members— planners, attorneys, engineers, architects, and others— support NJPO as members. They assist with valuable advice and generously give time as NJPO instructors. In the early 1990’s, a group of professionals worked with knowledgeable board members and created a structured, sophisticated curriculum that is the foundation of the popular NJPO basic educational programs.
Each year, this event celebrates the first major milestone achieved by the founders of NJPO: the state's first planning conference, held in Trenton on April 22, 1939. The conference was co-sponsored by the League of Municipalities, which recognized NJPO as an affiliate that year. The late Budd Chavooshian was chairman of the Conference or a member of the conference committee for more than four decades. In 1999, he chaired the NJPO 60th Anniversary Conference and after his death a few weeks later, the conference was named in his memory.