On January 5, 2023, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law Assembly Bill 573, which authorizes private inspections under the State Uniform Construction Code (UCC) Act, upon the satisfaction of certain conditions (the “Act”). The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) now has six months to propose rules to effectuate the provisions of the Act and three months thereafter to adopt those rules. The Act is a result of efforts throughout the commercial real estate industry to address the growing shortage of available municipal code inspectors and recent increased demand for inspections due to the high frequency of construction activity throughout the state, as well as an ongoing backlog due to COVID-19 staffing shortages. There is consensus within the industry that the processes codified within the Act will minimize project disruptions and delays and create a more streamlined construction inspection process, in order to expedite the timely construction and occupancy of inclusionary housing and non-residential development alike. The Act creates a new process by which private inspectors can perform required construction inspections under the UCC. Once work undertaken pursuant to a construction permit is ready for any required inspection under the UCC, the owner, agent, or other person in charge of the work (collectively, the “Owner”) shall notify the enforcing agency (presumably the...
More Than Parking Tickets: Appellate Division Rules that New Jersey Municipal Courts Can Assess Civil Penalties for Spill Act Violations
Municipal courts are typically called on to rule on such matters as parking violations and speeding tickets. Some statutes, however, give them jurisdiction over a surprising variety of actions. In its published opinion in State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Alsol Corporation, the Appellate Division held that one powerful environmental law, the Spill Compensation and Control Act (Spill Act), grants municipal courts jurisdiction to assess civil penalties for violations of the statute, even where the department has not already gone through an administrative process to assess such penalties. DEP’s complaint against Alsol arose from an October 2016 oil spill at a property it owns in Milltown. According to factual assertions made by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), the spill was the result of a contractor’s faulty demolition of three electrical transformers. Oil from the transformers, later determined to contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), spilled onto the surface and into a storm drain. The oil allegedly reached Farrington Lake and may have reached Mill Pond and Lawrence Brook, which a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Fish and Wildlife Officer closed to fishing. The complaint, filed in Milltown Municipal Court, did not allege a violation of the Spill Act’s fundamental prohibition on the discharge of hazardous substances. Instead, it alleged that Alsol...
Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a green light to developers and other interested parties to eventually pursue builders’ remedy actions in New Jersey Superior Court. The decision is the latest in a battle over affordable housing that has been in and out of the courts since the Mount Laurel decision in 1975. Most recently, in September 2013, the Supreme Court overturned the Council on Affordable Housing’s (“COAH”) latest attempt at adopting affordable housing regulations and ordered COAH to adopt new regulations within five months. That period was eventually extended to November 2014. COAH, however, did not adopt new regulations. Its inaction prompted a motion in aid of litigants’ rights, whereby parties to the prior action sought to break the bureaucratic logjam. Last week’s decision, designating trial courts as the venue for affordable housing disputes, is the New Jersey Supreme Court’s solution to the logjam.
Beginning January 1, 2015, any New Yorker who disposes of an old computer, television, or even an iPod, i.e., “electronic waste” (“e-waste”), by placing that item in the garbage or leaving it on the curb for collection will be in violation of the New York State Electronic Recycling and Reuse Act, N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law § 27-2601, et seq.. Individual consumers will instead be required to recycle such e-waste by dropping it off at a registered e-waste collector or by returning it to an e-waste manufacturer, or risk being fined $100 each time they fail to do so.
One stop shopping. That is the goal of the bill that Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed into law on January 13, 2014, creating the Philadelphia Land Bank. The Land Bank, which is to be fully operational by the end of this year, is intended to streamline and consolidate the process by which the City acquires and sells vacant and tax delinquent properties. The Land Bank will also act as the single repository for the approximately 9,500 vacant and surplus properties currently owned by the City through three separate entities: the City, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation.
Well that didn’t take long. Last August, following a four year process, the City of Philadelphia’s comprehensive new zoning code became law. Because of the law’s broad scope and sweeping changes, it was agreed that the Code would be revisited one year after its enactment to determine its effectiveness and to consider making any necessary changes. Yet, on January 24, 2013, a mere 5 months later ,the Philadelphia City Council, overriding a veto by Mayor Michael Nutter, passed Bill No. 120889 by a vote of 13-3 and amended the new Code, significantly complicating pre-hearing interaction between neighbors and developers which the Code was intended to streamline. While Council has enacted some minor “clean-up” amendments to the Code since August, this amendment could have substantial consequences.
The redevelopment of vacant and blighted parcels has been a cumbersome, frustrating and, in many cases unsuccessful, process for municipalities and developers alike. Pennsylvania’s new land bank legislation could change all that. Philadelphia, with its own land bank legislation is poised to take advantage of the state legislation.
This article is the second in a series that deals with the legal implications of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated many areas of New Jersey on October 29, 2012. Owners of property with a structure that has suffered substantial damage or that has been destroyed should be aware that they may qualify for a lower property tax assessment, which may result in lower property taxes next year.
On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy devastated many areas of New Jersey, with the coastal areas seeing unprecedented devastation. Residents and business owners from the Jersey Shore, including the bayshore areas, face the daunting task of rebuilding. Many business and property owners, however, cannot simply apply for a building permit to replace damaged structures. For many, it will be an uphill legal battle to rebuild. This is particularly true for property owners who had been operating nonconforming uses.
On November 7, 2012, the New Jersey Supreme Court will be hearing oral argument as to whether the latest regulations adopted by the Council on Affordable Housing (“COAH”) are valid. Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules, the decision will have a far-ranging impact on the future of affordable housing in New Jersey and is being watched closely by developers, municipalities and public interest groups.