Permit Extensions: Looming Deadline and Best Practices
The period within which to register development approvals for tolling or extension under the Permit Extension Act of 2020 (“Act”) concludes on October 8, 2020. Permits and approvals which are not timely registered by that date may expire without receiving the benefit of tolling afforded by the Act. We have detailed both the Permit Extension Act of 2020 and the recently published notices from various state agencies on our website. While the language of the Act as adopted, and the accompanying notices from the various state agencies, are not fully consistent with respect to what approvals are required to be registered, we wanted to pass along two key suggestions regarding how to best take advantage of the Act:
- Register All Approvals. We suggest to err on the side of registering all approvals – this means not only State agency permits, but also municipal land use approvals, agreements for sewerage capacity, water permits, construction permits, plan endorsements under the State Planning Act, and any approval for permits related to any development application. While the statutory language seemed to suggest that it was only state level permitting that would be subject to registration, it appears that NJDEP will be serving as a database and repository for all approvals – not just those of state agencies – and it must publish a list of all registered approvals within 14 days of receipt of the registration. If you do not seek to register those approvals by October 8, 2020, you may lose the opportunity to seek such an extension. Also, keep in mind that it does not necessarily have to be the applicant who registers the permit, so that an application filed in the name of a property owner, for the benefit of a contract lessee or contract purchaser, can be registered by the applicant, the property owner, or the agent for either. Additionally, some agencies have required more notice than simply registering on the NJDEP website – for instance, the NJDOT provided in its published notice of the registration requirement that in addition to registration on NJDEP’s website, registration must also be sent to the NJDOT in hard copy, and the address to be utilized differs depending on the type of permit being registered. If a permit or approval you believe should have been extended is excluded from the final published agency list, please let us know.
- Register Approvals Regardless of Expiration Date. Additionally, we suggest registering all approvals in effect as of March 9, 2020, regardless of the date of expiration, because the Permit Extension Act of 2020 is fundamentally different from the previous versions of the PEA. Where the prior versions of the PEA simply extended those approvals, which expired during a given period of time, the Permit Extension Act of 2020 language appears to toll or extend all approvals that were in effect as of March 9, 2020, provided that they are registered. Given the lack of clarity on how long the public health emergency for COVID may continue, and the unknown effect it may have on the real estate industry, we suggest taking advantage of this opportunity while it exists.
Please contact us if you have questions regarding the registration process or whether a certain permit can be extended. Permits can be registered at https://www.nj.gov/dep/pea2020.