Photo of Adam J. Faiella

Adam J. Faiella is a Member of the Sills Cummis & Gross Real Estate Department and focuses on zoning and land use, including the preparation of site plan and variance applications.

The City of Newark recently introduced an ordinance that would amend its Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance (“IZO”) to expand the scope of the IZO, while offering certain density and other bonuses to developers. The City Council voted to introduce the ordinance on first reading and refer the ordinance to the Central Planning Board for review. After the Central Planning Board reviews the legislation, the ordinance will go back to the City Council for a second and final reading, and potential adoption.

Continue Reading Newark Introduces Ordinance to Expand Its Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance

Three recently introduced bills in the New Jersey State Legislature could hint at an emerging policy shift away from the state’s time-honored respect for “home rule” and towards a more regional approach to land use planning. While the proposed legislation does not eliminate a local municipality’s jurisdiction to consider certain land use applications, the introduction of additional regional planning approaches could lead to a general erosion of home rule. Specifically, the introduction of Senate Bill 3910 would create the “Palisades Cliffs Protection and Planning Act,” aimed at protecting the Gold Coast from high-rise development. Similarly, Senate Bill 3688 would require certain warehouse development projects to seek approval from County planning boards or the State Planning Commission prior to receiving local land use approvals. Those warehouse development opportunities (and any other development opportunities) would diminish further by the enactment of proposed Assembly Bill 5793, which would prohibit municipalities from designating farmland as an area in need of redevelopment or rehabilitation area.

Continue Reading Is New Jersey Moving Away From Home Rule?

On September 8, 2020, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) issued a Public Notice pursuant to the New Jersey Permit Extension Act of 2020, P.L. 2020, c. 53 (the “Act”), which extended the term of numerous government permits and approvals that were in effect on March 9, 2020. The Act suspends the running of the periods of eligible permits and approvals from March 9, 2020 until six (6) months after the end of the Public Health Emergency declared by Governor Murphy in response to COVID-19.

Continue Reading New Jersey Extends Numerous Permits and Approvals Under the Permit Extension Act of 2020; Mandatory Registration Required by October 8th

Governor Murphy signed the Permit Extension Act of 2020 (the “Act”) into law, automatically suspending the running of the period of eligible permits and approvals 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 has been declared by the Governor in response to COVID-19 and is in effect. This suspension will not shorten the duration of any permit or approval to a duration less than it otherwise would have had in the absence of the Act, and extends any permit or approval for at least six months beyond the end of the COVID-19 Extension Period.

Continue Reading Governor Murphy Signs Permit Extension Act of 2020 Into Law

In recent years, retailers have begun to convert unused space in their stores, including the sales floor area, to warehouse and distribution operations for online orders as e-commerce has increased. This trend has accelerated in response to the surge of home deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many retailers are utilizing even more floor area, and sometimes entire stores, as fulfillment centers. Re-purposing vacant or unused space can aid brick and mortar retailers in competing with pure-play online merchants and help property owners prevent lease defaults and maintain healthy occupancy levels. Municipalities also benefit when the rent roll of a commercial tax ratable of any kind, especially a shopping center, is stabilized. However, retailers and their landlords need to proceed carefully because converting unused retail space to “dark stores” for warehouse and distribution could have land use implications.*

Continue Reading Going Dark: Land Use Implications of Converting Retail Space to “Dark Stores” for Fulfilling Online Orders

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.

Continue Reading What’s Old Is New Again: Legislation up for a Vote in Trenton Would Revive Permit Extension Act

Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 122 requiring all “non-essential” construction projects in New Jersey to cease by Friday, April 10, 2020, at 8 pm. This shutdown continues indefinitely, with limited exemptions for construction projects that are deemed essential. On-going construction for projects that are not deemed essential will be required to stop, and future construction for projects that are not deemed essential will not be permitted to begin.

The shutdown will potentially delay many real estate projects, impact deadlines in contracts, and/or impact construction financing. Readers are encouraged to review with counsel their loan commitments and covenants, land use approval expiration dates, delivery obligations to buyers and tenants, and other potential impacts of Executive Order 122.

Continue Reading Governor Murphy Announces Shutdown of Non-Essential Construction

Proposed Legislation Would Permit Conversion to Mixed-Use Projects without Obtaining Use Variance

Legislation introduced this week in Trenton would provide a temporary relief period during which owners of certain underutilized shopping centers and office parks could qualify to convert such properties to mixed-use projects without the need to obtain a use variance from the host municipality.

The bill, A-5229, introduced by Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald, would provide for a 25-month period commencing with the effective date of the bill during which a proposed mixed-use development would automatically be deemed a permitted use if certain criteria are met.  The legislation would override local zoning standards and permit developers to redevelop these stranded assets without the need for a use variance, allowing developers to seek required approvals from the local Planning Board if the required submission is made within the 25-month period.

Continue Reading ADAPTIVE RE-USE: Relief on Tap for Owners of “Stranded” Shopping Centers and Office Parks

A municipality’s ability to impose labor requirements as a condition of a tax break was recently called into question by a federal appeals court decision.  In an apparent “first impression” opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that the City of Jersey City is acting as a regulator, not a market participant, when it enforces its property tax abatement ordinance. (Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. New Jersey Chapter et als. v. City of Jersey City, Docket No. 2-14-cv-05445).  This ruling could have a significant effect on whether municipalities can adopt ordinances tying property tax exemptions or other incentives to requirements such as PLAs. The decision arguably could even have a ripple effect on state or locally-imposed prevailing wage and affirmative action requirements tied to the granting of incentives.

Continue Reading Municipal Ordinances Requiring Developers to Enter Into Project Labor Agreements as Condition of Tax Exemption May Be in Jeopardy