Sills Cummis attorney Ted Zangari recently issued a public call for the New Jersey State Legislature to adopt a new version of the Permit Extension Act, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-136.1 et seq. The Act was signed into law in 2008 to revive and extend state, county, and local government approvals to provide the regulated community, developers, property owners, and the real estate sector with relief in recognition of the nationwide recession that began in 2007. As the recession and its effects dragged on, the Act was further extended in 2010 and 2012, and again in 2014 to deal with compounded effects of Superstorm Sandy in certain highly impacted areas. As Ted noted, now is the time to extend these protections as we adapt and respond to the current and forthcoming public health and economic crises that are impacting the country and the world.
We all are keeping up on the COVID-19 concerns and are observing behavioral changes needed to protect the health of our family, friends and community members during the State of Emergency. The effects of the health and financial problems are already having devastating impacts on our economy and tens of millions of people nationwide. The businesses that provide jobs, housing, food, employment and other services need to be able to understand what they will be able to do when the current shutdowns eventually end.
Impressively, the NJ State Legislature has acted quickly to pass over 30 pieces of legislation in the past two weeks to respond to COVID-19 issues and to keep the government and society functioning. Now, we need Trenton to take action on Permit Extension legislation to provide short-term and long-term relief to our construction, real estate, business, development, remediation and waste industries.
On an immediate basis – in view of the fact that the availability of workers, suppliers, and government reviewers and inspectors will continue to diminish and businesses will be forced to cut expenses because of reduced income – short-term relief, in the form of time extensions (until at least 30 days after the end of the emergency declarations), is needed for the following:
- approvals and permits in effect prior to the emergency declarations;
- deadlines for submissions due during the period of the emergency declaration;
- the calculation of time frames for compliance or submissions suspended.
Once short-term relief is put in place, we need policymakers to preserve the following state, county and municipal approvals and permits:
- land use approvals;
- building permits;
- licenses with time limits;
- remediation of contamination;
- wetlands, CAFRA, Highlands, Pinelands, flood hazard areas, DRCC, Meadowlands, waterfront development and related mitigation requirements;
- solid waste and recycling facilities;
- air permits;
- Administrative Consent Orders
The adoption of a sweeping “Permit Extension Act of 2020” will allow for projects in the pipeline to be completed as the expected, gradual recovery occurs. Short of such action, the number of vacant parcels, empty holes in the ground, half-built structures with rusting steel framing or rotted plywood sheathing will become an all-too-common scene in our State.