Sep 24, 2020

Permit Extension and Regulatory Deadline Extension

By Sean Monaghan, Esq.


New Jersey has enacted another Permit Extension Act in response to the recession started by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Permit Extension Act of 2020 (“PEA 2020”) prevented the expiration of certain environmental and land development permits, such as waterfront development permits and subdivision and site plan approvals. PEA 2020 preserved some approvals that were in effect on March 9, 2020. PEA 2020 applies to approvals throughout the State of New Jersey, unlike prior permit extension acts which excluded approvals applicable to certain environmentally sensitive areas. For the permits extended, the extensions apply as long as the public health emergency declared by the Governor is in effect. PEA 2020 suspends running of periods of eligible permits and approvals from March 9, 2020 until 6 months after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

 

Unlike prior versions of the Permit Extension Act, PEA 2020 requires that government permits and approvals in effect on March 9, 2020 be registered with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection by completing an online form. The registration must be completed by October 8, 2020. The registration can be completed online here.

 

PEA 2020 also provides an extension of the period of time for a municipal agency (Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment) to deem an application for development complete. The deadline for determining an application to be complete is extended from 45 to 60 days after the date the application is submitted. PEA 2020 also amends the period of time within which a municipal agency must act on an application for development to 60 days following the determination that the application is complete. Oddly, that 60 day period is shorter than the time provided for several types of applications under the Municipal Land Use Law (the “MLUL”). Under the MLUL, applications for smaller subdivisions are required to be acted on within 45 days. If the subdivision is for more than 10 lots, the MLUL allows the Board 95 days to act. Likewise, with regard to some applications for a variance, the MLUL provides the Board 120 days to act on an application. Obviously, the 60 days under the PEA 2020 is less than the period under the MLUL.

 

It remains to be seen how PEA 2020 will actually be implemented. In our experience, some Boards were taking longer than the 60 days to make a completeness determination on an application submitted in early March and much longer than the 60 days to act on the application once it was deemed complete. In part, the delay was due to the fact that the Board cancelled its meetings due to prohibitions against indoor gatherings imposed by Executive Orders. Some other municipalities adopted Zoom and other digital meeting platforms and have continued to process land use applications during the public health emergency.

 

Any questions relating to PEA 2020 should be directed to members of Schenck, Price’s Land Use and Redevelopment Practice Group, including Matthew Posada at mpp@spsk.com, James Polles at jep@spsk.com and Sean Monaghan at sm@spsk.com.

 

DISCLAIMER: This Alert is designed to keep you aware of recent developments in the law. It is not intended to be legal advice, which can only be given after the attorney understands the facts of a particular matter and the goals of the client.

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