Legislation was introduced in Trenton this week that would allow developers to opt for an expedited construction plan review program, pursuant to which an agency would have ten (10) calendar days to render a decision under the State Uniform Construction Code Act, N.J.A.C. 52:27D-119, et seq. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Robert J. Karabinchak, would allow a municipal governing body to adopt a program requiring its construction code enforcing agency to conduct such expedited plan reviews at the request of property owners. In the event a municipality elects not to offer the optional program, the bill provides for the licensure and authorization of private plan review agencies to conduct such expedited plan reviews. The municipal enforcing agency would retain jurisdiction over projects, including the issuance of the certificate of occupancy, regardless of whether an expedited review is conducted by the municipality’s code enforcement personnel or a private plan review agency.

An owner would have to choose to participate in the program at the time of submission of an application for a construction permit. The program would include a premium fee of $500 for each required subcode area plan review in addition to the usual applicable municipal fees. The owner would pay the premium fee to the municipal enforcing agency regardless of whether the review were to be conducted by the municipality or a private plan review agency. The reviewing agency in receipt of a completed application would be required to either approve, in whole or in part, or deny the application within ten (10) calendar days of the date of submission.

A private plan review agency that is contracted to perform the expedited plan review must carry out its obligation under the contract until full completion of the project, as evidenced by the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. Private plan review agencies would be vested with all powers, and would be subject to all requirements that are applicable to a municipal enforcing agency except the ability to directly collect any fees for their services from the owner or its representatives. The Department of Community Affairs would be empowered to develop and implement the program’s rules and regulations, including the licensure program for a private plan review agency.

The text of the draft legislation, Bill Number A5838, can be found here.