New Jersey Governor Chris Christie re-extended New Jersey's Permit Extension Act, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-136.1 et seq., for a third time by enacting Assembly Bill 3815. This legislation extends the tolling of the approval period for certain real estate development permits until December 31, 2015, as long as the permits were valid and in effect on or after January 1, 2007. The Permit Extension Act was originally enacted in 2008, and it was subsequently extended in 2010 and again in 2012. While the previous extensions granted two-year reprieves for permits, the most recent extension provides only one additional year of tolling.
The Act's extension of permits is intended to promote the resurgence of New Jersey?s economy after the recession. Obtaining governmental approvals for development projects can be a lengthy and complicated process. Under the Act, projects that had received approvals but were placed on hold during the economic downturn can proceed under those same permits in order to avoid wasting public and private resources. Extending permits also promotes development by allowing landowners and developers to avoid defaulting on their loans, as when a permit expires, the value of the property depreciates, eroding the loan's collateral. The permits extended under the Act include a variety of government approvals necessary for development, such as:
- wetlands permits,
- sediment control plan approvals,
- waterfront development permits,
- septic approval,
- sewerage approval,
- water quality management plan approval,
- flood hazard area permits,
- right-of-way and highway access permits,
- waivers and
- agreements that allow projects to proceed.
A few permits are not tolled under the Act, however. These exceptions include certain permits or approvals issued under the Pinelands Protection Act, Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act, Flood Hazard Control Act and Coastal Area Facility Review Act; permits regulated by the federal government; permits issued within an environmentally sensitive area; certain permits issued by the Department of Transportation; and approvals issued under the Municipal Land Use Law for residential development where the master plan and zoning ordinance have since been amended to rezone the property to industrial or commercial use.
Because the legislation tolls the running of the approval period for permits until December 31, 2015, any period of time left on a permit will begin to run after this date. However, the Act limits the validity of permits beyond December 31, 2015, establishing that no permits can be extended more than six months beyond the extension period. Thus, all permits tolled by the Act will expire by June 30, 2016, at the latest, unless additional extension legislation is passed next year or unless individual permits are otherwise extended by law.