After keeping the real estate development community on edge for several weeks, on September 21, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie finally signed into law legislation (A-1338 and S-743) that amends the New Jersey Permit Extension Act to extend the expiration date of certain development approvals to December 31, 2014. The extension period for approvals covered under the Act was due to expire on December 31, 2012. The Act covers a broad range of municipal, county, regional and state governmental approvals.

The legislation also amends the Act to provide the following:

  • Expands the definition of “approval” to include agreements with a municipality, county, municipal authority, sewerage authority or other governmental authority for the use or reservation of sewerage capacity.
  • The Act does not extend approvals or permits within an environmentally sensitive area. The new law excludes from the “environmentally sensitive area” definition what it calls an “extension area,” which includes (a) areas designated as Planning Area 1, Planning Area 2, Planning Area 3, Planning Area 4A, a designated center or a designated growth center in an endorsed plan until June 30, 2013 or until the State Planning Commission revises and readopts the New Jersey State Strategic Plan and adopts implementing regulations, whichever is later; (b) a smart growth area and planning area in a master plan adopted by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission; (c) regional growth areas, villages and towns designated in the comprehensive management plan prepared and adopted by the Pinelands Commission; (d) the Planning Area of the New Jersey Highlands; (e) an urban enterprise zone; (f) an area determined to be in need of redevelopment and as approved by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs; or (g) similar areas designated by the Department of Environmental Protection. The law makes clear the legislative intent of the Act that approvals for projects in these designated areas are to remain valid through the full extension period, retroactive to the original enactment date of the Act.

The additional two-year extension of existing approvals should help keep alive planned projects that have stalled due to the weak economy. Please contact the author at Pepper Hamilton with any questions about the New Jersey Permit Extension Act as recently amended and its application to a particular project.