Eight days after Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 122 (EO 122), which “ceased the physical operations of non-essential construction projects indefinitely,” the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), on April 14, 2020, imposed an additional requirement for builders of “essential construction projects.” Those builders must submit documentation to the local building department “attesting to how the project qualifies” to be among those that may proceed and certifying that the project is complying with the COVID-19-driven safety and social distancing measures spelled out in paragraphs 3 and 4 of EO 122.

This new requirement was not included in the Governor’s Executive Order and could send builders scrambling to assemble (in many cases, retroactively) and submit documentation to demonstrate its right to commence or continue work. Notably, the list of “essential” construction projects also includes specific categories of work, which may be undertaken on non-essential construction projects to the extent required to ensure the safety, preservation and protection of such projects during the suspension. Ultimately, the local building departments will be tasked with reviewing the documentation and determining whether or not construction may proceed. Therefore, the best practice would be to initiate or continue a dialogue with the local construction official and focus attention on record retention.

The DCA alert also noted that construction offices can continue to take new permit applications for non-essential construction projects, but cannot issue permits for such projects until the Governor lifts Executive Order 122. Further, consistent with N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.16(b), DCA has declared that builders of non-essential projects that are temporarily suspended by EO 122 must restart work within six months of the Governor’s lifting of Executive Order 122 or their construction permits will be deemed “invalid.” Builders are cautioned that delay in restarting work could pose significant consequences so they should not delay restoration of work following the lifting of the Governor’s declaration of a State of Emergency.

Click here to read the NJDCA alert: https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/codes/alerts/pdfs/EO122_guide.pdf

Click here to read the Governor’s Executive Order 122: https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-122.pdf