Governor Christie today signed into law Assembly Bill No. 2853 which directs State and local agencies that issue permits to businesses related to economic development to streamline the process by which the permits are issued to such businesses and monitored for compliance.

The law requires State agencies to review the permits they currently issue to identify permits which: 1) can be administered through expedited processes, such as developing procedures for the electronic submission of permit applications; or 2) may be obsolete, are no longer necessary or cost more to administer than the benefits they provide, and thus should be eliminated so long as the public health, safety, or general welfare is not endangered.

The law also requires the Secretary of State or other State officer or employee that the governor may designate to develop a system of consolidated and contemporaneous review of State- and local agency-issued permits to accelerate the permitting process, eliminate redundancy among different levels of State and local government, and ensure more consistency.  The system must be adopted by rule pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act; this will ensure notice to the public, a public hearing and the opportunity for stakeholders to comment.  Under this system, municipalities would be encouraged and incentivized to voluntarily join in a collaborative “project management” with State agencies.  However, business permits or approvals issued by municipalities pursuant to the "Municipal Land Use Law," P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-1 et seq.) and business permits or approvals related to a federally-funded program or project and permits that are specified or determined by federal law are not subject to the provisions of the bill.

For large, complex projects having a significant potential employment or investment impact, the bill requires the Secretary of State or the Governor’s designee to designate an employee of the Department of State from among those positions already filled to act as a contact person to be responsible for assisting each business undertaking such a project on an individual basis and to continue as the point of contact between that business and all appropriate government entities throughout the permit and approval application process.  For projects which require permits from multiple State and local agencies, the bill requires the Secretary of State or the Governor’s designee to designate an employee of the Department of State to guide such projects throughout the process of applying and receiving any business permit or approval.  The contact person’s duties would include: 1) developing from the outset an agreed upon checklist of permits to which the applicable agencies agree; 2) establishing detailed pathways and milestones for the process, also to be agreed to by the applicable agencies; 3) reporting any impediments to or conflicts regarding milestones to the Secretary of State or the Governor’s designee, and promptly evaluating any disputes, delays, or other issues requiring centralized review; and 4) coordinating as needed with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to ensure that businesses considering investing in New Jersey receive integrated project management of all of the incentives and approvals milestones required.

The law is based on a recommendation contained in the report entitled “Governor-Elect Christie: Report to the Transition Team: Subcommittee on Economic Development & Job Growth.”