In a surprising acknowledgement of the slowing economy and its impact on development and new projects, the New Jersey Legislature passed the Permit Extension Act of 2008 (the PEA) on June 23, 2008, and Gov. John S. Corzine finally signed it more than two months later. The PEA extends certain permits and approvals typically associated with subdivision and site plans that have, or otherwise would, expire. Permits and approvals expiring during the period from January 1, 2007, through July 1, 2010 will not expire until July 1, 2010, with the potential for an additional extension until December 31, 2010 for certain permits and approvals.

The bill passed with overwhelming majorities in both houses, yet remained on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature through the summer because it was unpopular with certain environmental groups. Despite that opposition, the PEA is now law and was warmly received by the development and construction industries.

There are limitations to the PEA that were intended to address the concerns of environmental groups and the USEPA. Some permits and approvals will not receive the benefit of the PEA, including those relating to projects in areas defined as “environmentally sensitive,” those issued under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act (unless work has commenced), and certain Coastal Center designations. The PEA includes a savings clause under which it does not modify any requirements related to a delegated federal program, such as wetlands regulations, and does not extend any permits or approvals issued by the United States. To help you through the maze created by the PEA, DEP posted on its website a list of affected permits, exempted permits, how to determine if an activity is in an “environmental sensitive” area, frequently asked questions, and DEP contacts to respond to questions. The DEP website address is dep/opppc/extension.htm.