[Adopted by Ord. No. 1557 (Ch. 23 of the 1987 Code)]
The title of this article shall be "Contribution Disclosure Ordinance."
Municipal Master Plans include well-thought-out, long-term decisions about the development capacity of a community and are implemented through the enactment of local land use ordinances. This Borough has a tradition of openness in government and a strong commitment to providing a fair and impartial variance application process. Openness in government and a fair and impartial variance application process are crucial to assuring the continuing integrity of the Municipal Master Plan, its implementing ordinances and the integrity of the variance application process. Disclosure of political contributions by property owners, developers and professionals will effectuate the purposes of the Municipal Land Use Law to promote morals and the general welfare.
Therefore, it is accordingly found and determined that the paramount public interest in enhancing the Borough's commitment to openness in government, in providing further guarantees for a fair and impartial variance application process, and in promoting morals and the general welfare through the integrity of the municipal planning process requires the supplementation of the municipal application checklist to mandate the listing of specified political contributions made by property owners, developers and the professionals whose services they use in applications for variances pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:55D-70(c), N.J.S.A. 40:55D-70(d), N.J.S.A. 40:55D-25(a)(4), N.J.S.A. 40:55d-25(a)(6), N.J.S.A. 40:55D-76(b), and N.J.S.A. 40:55d-60(a).
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- APPLICATION CHECKLIST
- The list of submission requirements adopted by ordinance and provided by the Municipal Agency to a developer pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:55D-10.3.
- Every loan, gift, subscription, advance or transfer of money or other thing of value, including any item of real property or personal property, tangible or intangible (but not including services provided without compensation by individuals volunteering a candidate, committee or organization), made to or on behalf of any candidate, candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee or political party committee and any pledge, promise or other commitment or assumption of liability to make such transfer. For purposes of reports required under the provisions of this article, any such commitment or assumption shall be deemed to have been a contribution upon the date when such commitment is made or liability assumed.
- CONTRIBUTION DISCLOSURE STATEMENT
- A list specifying the amount, date, and the recipient of any and all contributions made to or on behalf of any candidate, candidate committee, joint candidates committee, political committee, continuing political committee or political party committee of, or pertaining to, this municipality, made up to one year prior to filing the variance application and/or during the pendency of the application process, and required to be reported pursuant to N.J.S.A. 19:44A-1 et seq. 
- A developer as defined by N.J.S.A. 40:55D-4, i.e., the legal or beneficial owner or owners of a lot or any land proposed to be included in a proposed development, including the holder of an option or contract to purchase, or other person having an enforceable proprietary interest in such land.
- Any person or entity whose principals are required to be licensed by New Jersey law and who supplies legal representation, expert testimony or written reports in support of an application. Professionals shall include both any individuals supplying the representation, testimonies or reports and the firms or entities in which said individuals practice.
- PROPERTY OWNER
- The holder of title to the property to which the subject variance application pertains. If the property owner is a corporation, partnership or other form of entity not a natural person, then the term "property owner" shall be deemed to include the corporation, partnership or other entity in itself, as well as each and every equity owner of such corporation, partnership or other entity.
Any application for a variance pursuant to any of the statutes set forth in § 33-25 shall include in the application contribution disclosure statements for all developers; all associates of said developers who would be subject to disclosure pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:55D-48.1 or 40:55D-48.2; and all professionals who apply for or provide testimony, plans, or reports in support of said variance and who have an enforceable proprietary interest in the property or development which is the subject of the application or whose fee in whole or part is contingent upon the outcome of the application. Regardless of whether the property owner falls in any of the categories established in the preceding sentence, the applicant shall include in the application a contribution disclosure statement for said owner.
During the pendency of the application process until final site plan approval is granted, any applicant for a variance pursuant to any of the statutes set forth in § 33-25 shall amend its contribution disclosure statements promptly and diligently to include continuing disclosure of all contributions within the scope of disclosure requirement of the above subsection.
Inclusion of contribution disclosure statement as an element of the application checklist.
An application checklist ordinance is hereby adopted pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:55D-10.3 to require contribution disclosure statements from any and all property owners, developers, or professionals applying for or providing testimony, plans, or reports in support of any application for a variance pursuant to any of the statutes set forth in § 33-25.
The Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment shall respectively amend their application checklists to include the contribution disclosure statement specified in the above subsection.
Availability of the disclosure statement. All contribution disclosure statements shall be available in the office of the Administrative Officer for review by any member of the public.
Admission of contribution disclosure statement prohibited. To the extent to which they are not probative in evaluating the merits of an application in and of itself, the contents of any contribution disclosure statement required to be filed pursuant to § 33-25, and any comments or statements concerning same, shall be inadmissible for any purpose at any hearing of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, and furthermore this information shall not become part of the official record before that Board on any application.
This article shall take effect in a time and manner prescribed by law, except that the article shall not take effect until the Borough has received an executed agreement providing for the defense of the Borough of Highland Park, its boards, agencies, agents, and employees in any action brought to challenge any provision of this article, or to challenge any action of the Borough of Highland Park, its boards, agencies, agents, and employees based upon the constitutionality or other legality of this article said agreement to be in a form approved by the Borough Attorney.