The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP or Department) issued two major announcements concerning site remediation arising out of Governor Murphy’s March 9, 2020 State of Emergency and Public Health Emergency declarations. The Department clarified that construction related to site remediation may continue and also granted emergency waivers of certain site remediation timeframes and deadlines.
Continue Reading NJDEP Clarifies Exemptions for Site Remediation Projects, Announces Temporary Emergency Site Remediation Waiver to Extend Deadlines and Timeframes by Ninety Days During State of Emergency

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.
Continue Reading NJDCA to Builders: “Essential Construction” Must Adhere to Guidelines, “Non-Essential Construction” Must Use or Lose Permits After Restrictions Lifted

More than ever, the development industry needs permit extension legislation to ensure a robust real estate market once the current public health emergency is resolved. Legislation tracking the Permit Extension Act (PEA) of 2008 (PEA) should be implemented. While the severity of the extended economic downturn more than ten years ago made it difficult, if not impossible, for many commercial and residential developers to continue building, the severity of the situation today is more extreme.
Continue Reading Development Industry Needs Permit Extension Legislation

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

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proposed substantive changes to the remediation standards administered under New Jersey’s Site Remediation Program (SRP). The 273-page rule proposal includes 84 pages of commentary and 26 pages of rule amendments, and the remainder consisting of technical detail and charts. If adopted, it will have a significant and far-reaching effect on the remediation of contaminated sites in New Jersey so the regulated community should carefully assess those ramifications and take advantage of the opportunity to offer comments and other input to the DEP.
Continue Reading NJDEP Proposes Significant Revisions to Cleanup Standards With Controversial New Requirements

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

The NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP or Department) issued new regulations effective April 6, 2020 that expand the Garden State’s list of protected waterways. These amendments to the Surface Water Quality Standards (SWQS), N.J.A.C. 7:9B, upgrade the designation of approximately 600 river miles throughout the state and assigns them the highest level of protected water quality status of “Category  One” (or “C1”).
Continue Reading New Jersey Expands List of Protected Waterways, Imposing Stricter Water Quality Controls and Development Buffers

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services (DLGS or Division) yesterday issued “Operational Guidance” to the state’s municipal Planning Boards and Zoning Boards of Adjustment to “ensure continuity of Land Use application procedures” while New Jersey’s State of Emergency remains in effect. The guidance document seeks to “ensure due process is afforded hearings and to remind local units to adhere to appropriate social distancing and health measures as they implement this process.”
Continue Reading NJDCA Issues Guidelines Clearing the Way for Virtual Zoning and Planning Board Hearings

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.
Continue Reading The Need for a New Permit Extension Act due to the COVID-19 Health Crisis and Ensuing Economic Downturn