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Legal Alert: Permit Extension Act of 2020

LEGISLATIVE ALERT – PERMIT EXTENSION ACT OF 2020 AWAITING GOVERNOR MURPHY'S SIGNATURE**

On June 29, 2020, the New Jersey Legislature passed the Permit Extension Act of 2020 which Governor Murphy is expected to sign into law.The June 29, 2020 version had been revised from the original version introduced on May 15, 2020 to incorporate changes recommended by Governor Murphy when he conditionally vetoed the May 15, 2020 version on June 25, 2020.

Once signed into law, the Permit Extension Act of 2020 (the "Act") tolls the running of periods of approval associated with various permits and land use approvals issued or granted by most local, county and/or State entities and/or agencies relating to development of property in the State of New Jersey.

Here's how it works:

(1) For most permits and/or approvals in existence and unexpired as of March 9, 2020, the period of time that approval remains valid and/or protected from subsequent changes in zoning is automatically suspended while the COVID-19 public health emergency declared by Governor Murphy remains in effect.This means the period of time from March 9, 2020 to the end of the declared public health emergency will not count towards the approval period but instead will be added to the end of the approval period; provided however, that a period of approval cannot be extended longer than 6 months for non-essential construction activities or longer than 12 months for essential construction activities as defined in Executive Order 122. Notably, the period of tolling is commensurate with the current public health emergency but not the separately declared state of emergency which is anticipated to continue beyond the end of the public health emergency.

(2) Any holder of a permit or approval issued by a State agency – such as a CAFRA permit or permit issued by NJDEP – must take specific action for the Act's tolling provisions to apply.Specifically, the issuing agency is required to publish notice of the tolling of approvals under the Act in the New Jersey Register within 30 days of the effective date of the Act.Permit/approval holders then must register with the issuing agency within 30 days of the date of publication in the New Jersey Register in order to remain eligible for automatic tolling under the Act.The issuing agency then must publish on its website a list of permits/approvals that are tolled under the Act.This list will include only those permits and approvals for which the holder thereof registered with the issuing agency in the 30-day period described above.

(3) At the municipal level, the Act extends the following statutory deadlines under the Municipal Land Use Law for all applications that were pending and/or awaiting certification or approval as of March 9, 2020 as well as all applications filed during the public health emergency:

(a) the 45-day period within which a local land use board must determine whether a land development application is complete is extended to either 120 days after March 9, 2020 or 60 days after the date the application was submitted to the land use board, whichever date is later;

(b) the period of time within which a local land use board must grant or deny an application that was waiting for a completeness certification or was pending before the board for hearing/approval as of March 9, 2020 is extended by 120 days, meaning the period of time within which a board must act for applications filed on or before March 9, 2020 is 120 days longer than the current statutory action period under the Municipal Land Use Law (the statutory period varies depending upon the type of application); and

(c) the period of time within which a local land use board must grant or deny an application filed after March 9, 2020 is extended to either 120 days after March 9, 2020 or 60 days after the application is certified as complete, whichever is later.

The Act does not apply to approvals or permits issued by any Federal agency.It also contains several exclusions for certain types of permits or approvals issued by various State agencies.

Contact our office at (609) 927-1177 for further guidance on how the Permit Extension Act of 2020 affects your development approvals or for more information regarding other COVID-19 legislation impacting development efforts across the State.

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