In response to the coronavirus pandemic, state legislators are set to vote on a bill on April 13 that would  revive the Permit Extension Act, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-136.1 et seq. (the “Act”). If the legislation is enacted, the Act would once again automatically suspend the running of the period of eligible permits and approvals—this time, during the “COVID-19 Extension Period.” The COVID-19 Extension Period is defined as the time period beginning on March 9, 2020, and continuing for as long as a public health emergency or a state of emergency, or both, has been declared by the Governor in response to COVID-19 and is in effect.

This suspension will not extend a permit or approval for more than six months after the end of the COVID-19 Extension Period. The maximum tolling period is extended to twelve months beyond the conclusion of the COVID-19 Extension Period for any construction project suspended by the recently passed Executive Order 122 or by an order of a State, County, or municipal government agency.

Similar to the previous iterations of the Act, the duration of any permit or approval will not be shortened to a duration less than it otherwise would have had in the absence of the Act. The Act also does not prohibit a government agency from granting any extensions of a permit or approval that may otherwise be provided for by law. The list of eligible permits and approvals was not changed by this amendment to the Act.

Further, certain deadlines under the Municipal Land Use Law have been extended for applications awaiting certification as a complete application as of March 9, 2020, applications pending before a planning board or zoning board of adjustment as of March 9, 2020, and applications submitted by an applicant during the COVID-19 Extension Period.  The 45-day period for an application for development to be deemed complete is extended to the later of either 90 days after March 9, 2020, or 60 days after the application is submitted to the municipal agency.  The 120-day time of decision period for an application to a planning board or a zoning board of adjustment is extended to the later of either 180 days after the application is certified as complete or 60 days after the public health emergency or state of emergency declared by the Governor in response to COVID-19 is rescinded.

Permits and approvals are subject to extension on an individual basis. If an activity or project is the subject of multiple permits, the extension of any one permit or approval is independent of the extension of any other permit or approval for the same activity or project.

The Permit Extension Act was signed into law on September 6, 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 December 2007.  As the recession dragged on for longer than had been anticipated, the Act was amended in 2010, 2012 and 2014 to extend some approvals, and again in 2016 to extend approvals mostly in Hurricane Sandy-impacted areas.

To view the legislation (S2346/A3919) in its entirety, please click here.