Commercial Losses as a Result of Hurricane Sandy

Seeking to Recover for the Different Types of Business Losses

If you own or operate a business in New Jersey, you may have experienced a wide range of losses when Hurricane Sandy swept through the East Coast last year. Your property may have been destroyed or flooded. You may have been unable to conduct business for weeks or months, or may still not be back in business. If, like most business owners, you have faithfully paid commercial insurance premiums, you may be anxious to know your prospects for recovering compensation for some or all of your losses.

Property Damage Suffered in Hurricane Sandy

As a general rule, physical damage to commercial buildings is covered by the provisions of a property and casualty policy. Your policy may insure you against “all risks,” in which case loss caused by any event not specifically excluded by the policy will be covered. Such policies can be expensive, so many business owners opt for policies that provide coverage for “named perils.” A “named peril” insurance contract provides coverage only for events or contingencies that are specifically identified in the policy.

Once you have determined whether you have an “all risks” or a “named peril” policy, you must then determine the cause of the damage, and will need to ascertain whether there are specific deductibles that apply in unique situations. It is not unusual for a policy to have a deductible that applies to a certain risk, such as a hurricane. You may also conclude that the damage to your property was the result of combined event, such as wind and water. If you have coverage for wind damage, but not water damage, you may also be subject to limits.

Business Interruption or Income Loss Coverage

Even if you don’t have coverage for physical damage caused by water or flooding, you may be able to seek insurance benefits for loss of income because you could not be open for business. Some insurance policies provide coverage for interruptions that result when the actions or order of a civil authority prevent you from going to your business.

You may be able to seek reimbursement of lost income if a covered peril prohibits access to your business. Even if you can get to and from your business, you may be entitled to insurance coverage for lost profits if you experienced an interruption of critical services, such as power or water, due to a covered peril.

Contact Del Duca Lewis

If you have concerns about insurance coverage for commercial losses suffered in Hurricane Sandy, you want an experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive lawyer to protect your interests. At the law office of Del Duca Lewis, we offer five decades of commercial real estate and business law experience to clients across southern New Jersey and the greater Philadelphia area. Attorney Damien Del Duca has been named a New Jersey Super Lawyer.

To schedule an appointment to discuss your real estate or business law needs, contact us online  or call our office at 856-427-4200.

The New Jersey Permit Extension Act

An Overview of the Purpose and Provisions of the Act

In September, 2008, concerned about the growing economic and financial challenges facing business and commerce in New Jersey, then Governor John Corzine signed into law NJSA 40:55D-135.1 et seq., known as The Permit Extension Act of 2008 (The PEA). The principal function of the PEA was to extend the terms of qualified governmental permits and approvals to July 1, 2010. According to sponsors of the bill, the fundamental objective of the statute was to minimize the risk that development projects would be abandoned before the economy had a chance to recover from the 2008 recession. Since the original bill was signed, it has been amended twice, with the expiration period now running through December 31, 2014, with a grace period through June 30, 2015.

To obtain the necessary support for the law, developers had to strike a compromise with opponents, including community activists and environmentalists. As a result, certain types of permits may not be extended under the statute:

  • Approvals in “environmentally sensitive areas”
  • Permits governed by the Flood Hazard Area Control Act, unless work had already begun
  • Permits or approvals subject to the Pinelands Protection Act, if the extension would require approval from the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, or would violate federal or state statute or regulation
  • State DOT permits, except for right-of-way permits
  • Any permit or approval from the federal government, or any permit or approval that has an expiration date or duration established by federal law

The PEA is also inapplicable to approvals or permits in coastal centers, as set forth in the Coastal Area Facility Review Act, unless the developer filed an application for plan endorsement to the New Jersey State Planning Commission by March 15, 2007, and was in compliance with coastal zoning management rules.

Contact Del Duca Lewis

At the law office of Del Duca Lewis, we offer five decades of commercial real estate and business law experience to clients across southern New Jersey and the greater Philadelphia area. As a testament to our knowledge, skill, experience and effectiveness, attorney Damien Del Duca has been named a New Jersey Super Lawyer. To schedule an appointment to discuss your real estate or business law needs, contact our office online or call us at 856-427-4200.

Where Redevelopment Really Stands in New Jersey

Where does redevelopment stand in New Jersey? The answer is a little uncertain.

Cutoffs in State Funding

For most of the last quarter of a century, local governments in New Jersey have counted on the participation of the state to develop and implement programs for community revitalization. All that came to a screeching halt, though, when New Jersey’s governor cut off most state aid, mandating that they become more self-reliant. In response, local communities have sought to foster public-private relationships with businesses to create incentives for economic development. State government officials, most notably the New Jersey State Comptroller, have maligned these efforts, contending that the businesses are getting a handout, as they would have located in these communities anyway (this in spite of substantial evidence to the contrary).

To further complicate matters, New Jersey’s Local Finance Board issued a rule requiring that any local government receiving state transition aid must agree in writing to share certain revenues with school districts, even if a project has no relationship to schools or school children, and will not lead to an increase in the number of school children.

The Use of Redevelopment Bonds

One of the most effective tools available for redevelopment is the issuance of bonds under the Redevelopment Area Bond Financing Law. The advantages of such an approach include the ability to sell these bonds as a safe investment, secured by payments in lieu of real estate taxes (PILOTs), as well as a lien on the land and all improvements. Also, because the bonds are repaid from the PILOTs, they generate a source of funds for the project, so that the municipality does not have to come up with separate funds.

New Tax Credits Available

On January 6, Governor Chris Christie signed a new law, establishing the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program. Under the statute, companies looking to move into or stay in New Jersey can obtain a tax credit for significant capital investments. The program offers a credit of $5,000 to $8,000 for each job created or retained by the company, up to a ceiling of 100 jobs. The credits can be claimed for 10 years. The new program expands credits to municipalities throughout the state of New Jersey, based on planning areas and regions zoned for growth.

The Grow New Jersey program is an effort to expand on and improve the largely unsuccessful Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit (UTHTC) incentive program, which initially generated much interest, but carried certain requirements that made many businesses ineligible to participate. The new program expands the geographic areas, lessens the capital improvement thresholds, and focuses on job creation and retention.

Contact Del Duca Lewis

To schedule an appointment with a seasoned business lawyer, contact our office by e-mail or call us at 856-427-4200. We offer flexible meeting times to accommodate your schedule.

New Jersey’s Bi-Partisan Red Tape Review Commission—Putting Permitting Up Front

On September 23, 2010, Acting Governor Kim Guadagno signed Executive Order No. 41, creating a permanent Red Tape Commission. The Commission’s stated mission is to “create a business climate in New Jersey that facilitates job creation” by identifying and removing burdensome regulations so that the interaction between business and government is more productive. At the same time, the commission is charged with giving priority to public health, safety and the environment.

The creation of the Red Tape Review Commission followed other actions by New Jersey’s then Governor Christie. Here’s a brief chronology:

  • On January 20, 2010, Governor Christie froze all proposed regulations and ordered a 90 day moratorium on new proposals. Governor Christie also ordered all state departments to complete a review of their administrative regulations to ensure compliance with “Common Sense Principles” for rule making.
  • On that same day, Governor Christie created the “Red Tape Review Group,” which was tasked to provide a written report within 90 days, addressing all pending and proposed rules and regulations, and their potential effect on businesses and workers in New Jersey. The report was submitted to the Governor on April 19, 2010.
  • Pursuant to the study and report, 16 proposed regulations were withdrawn. After a 6 month study of existing regulations, six chapters of the Administrative Code were abolished, and the repeal or amendment of 130 regulations was proposed.
  • The New Jersey legislature has taken action to implement many of the reforms recommended by the Red Tape Review Group.

As a part of the initiative, Governor Christie issued a series of Common Sense Principles, set forth in Executive Order No. 2. One of the key principles was the adoption of the “time of decision” rule, which states that every permit or approval is governed by the rules in effect at the time of filing. The “time of decision” rule was subsequently enacted into law when Governor Christie signed S82 on May 5, 2010.

Some of the successes that have already come out of the Red Tape Review Commission include:

  • A new general permit from the Department of Environmental Protection that makes it faster and easier for small to moderate-sized manufacturers as well as office complexes, hospitals, schools and apartment complexes to turn energy used for heating into electricity.
  • The abandonment of a proposed regulation by the Division of Consumer Affairs, based on a recommendation by the Red Tape Review Commission.
  • The creation of uniform contracting requirements for social service organizations regulated by the Department of Human Services and the Department of Children and Families.

Contact Del Duca Lewis

To schedule an appointment with a seasoned business lawyer, contact our office by e-mail or call us at 856-427-4200. We offer flexible meeting times to accommodate your schedule.