New Jersey Permit Extension Act Amended—Qualified Permits and Approvals Now Run Through End of 2014—More Permits Subject to Extension—Extensions Retroactive

In response to the economic challenges facing New Jersey when the recession hit in 2008, lawmakers passed, and then Governor John Corzine signed, The Permit Extension Act of 2008 (the PEA). Acknowledging that obtaining necessary permits and approvals can be time-consuming and costly, the PEA sought to reduce the risk that development projects that could substantially benefit New Jersey would be abandoned before the local and national economy had an opportunity to recover.

The original bill tolled the expiration date of all qualified permits and approvals to July 1, 2010. Unfortunately, the recession has lasted longer than the framers of the original statute anticipated. Accordingly, the bill has been amended twice, with the current termination date for qualified approvals and permits set at December 31, 2014, and a grace period extending until June 30, 2015.

In order to counteract significant opposition from community activists and environmentalists, the original act specifically excluded certain types of approvals or projects. A number of those exceptions still apply, including:

  • Permits or approvals in “environmentally sensitive areas”
  • State Department of Transportation permits, other than right-of-way permits
  • Permits or approvals subject to the provisions of the New Jersey Flood Hazard Area Control Act, except where a project was already underway
  • Permits or approvals issued by the federal government, or where the term of the permit is set by federal law

Areas that were originally excluded by the PEA, but where developers may now (and retroactively) obtain an extension include:

  • The Highlands planning area—A permit or approval may be extended for projects in this area as long as they are not located in State Planning Areas 4B or 5, have not been designated a critical environmental site, and are not in an area that has adopted a Highlands master plan element.
  • Municipalities listed in the Pinelands Commission comprehensive management plan that are not designated as a critical environmental site, or in State Planning Areas 4B or 5

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