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Governor Signs Permit Extension Bill into Law
Governor Signs Permit Extension Bill into Law

On July 1, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law the “Permit Extension Act of 2020” (Assembly Bill No. 3919). The new law extends many governmental permits, approvals and deadlines to address delays caused by the COVID-19 crisis, as explained below. 

The statute states that “for any government approval in existence on March 9, 2020, the running of the period of approval is automatically suspended for the COVID-19 extension period,” which period began on March 9, 2020 and does not expire until the Governor declares the COVID-19 public health emergency to be ended. The statute then ambiguously adds that the tolling period “shall extend the government approval at least six months beyond the conclusion of the COVID-19 extension period.” However, “[a]ny government approval subject to the automatic suspension . . . shall be registered with the department within 30 days” of a notice that State agencies are required to publish in the New Jersey Register by July 31, 2020; although the statute does not specify who must register the approval or what department the approval must be registered with, it makes clear that the “running period of any approval not registered . . . shall not be suspended.”

The “approval[s]” subject to the extension are broadly defined and include:

  • approvals of soil erosion and sediment control plan granted by a local soil conservation district;
  • waterfront development permits;
  • permits issued pursuant to the Wetlands Act of 1970;
  • permits issued pursuant to the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act;
  • approvals of application for development granted by the Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission;
  • permits issued pursuant to the Hackensack Meadowlands Reclamation and Redevelopment Act;
  • approvals of applications for development granted by the Pinelands Commission and determinations of municipal and county plan conformance pursuant to the Pinelands Protection Act;
  • permits issued pursuant to the Coastal Area Facility Review Act;
  • septic approvals granted pursuant to Title 26 (Health and Vital Statistics) of the New Jersey Statutes Annotated;
  • permits granted pursuant to N.J.S.A. 27:7-1 et seq. (Acquisition, Construction and Maintenance by State);
  • right-of way permits issued by Department of Transportation pursuant to N.J.S.A.27:1A-5;
  • approvals granted by a sewerage authorities pursuant to the “sewerage authorities law”;
  • approvals granted by municipal authorities pursuant to the “municipal and county utilities law”;
  • agreements with municipalities, counties, municipal authorities, sewerage authorities, or other governmental authority for the use or reservation of sewerage capacity;
  • approvals issued by county planning boards pursuant to chapter 27 of Title 40 of the New Jersey Statutes Annotated;
  • preliminary and final approvals granted in connection with applications for development pursuant to the Municipal Land Use Law;
  • permits granted pursuant to the State Uniform Construction Code Act;
  • plan endorsements and center designations pursuant to the State Planning Act;
  • permits or certifications issued pursuant to the Water Supply Management Act;
  • permits authorizing the drilling of a well pursuant to N.J.S.A. 58:4A-5 et seq.;
  • certifications or permits granted, exemptions from a sewerage connection ban granted, wastewater management plans approved, and pollution discharge elimination system permits pursuant to the Water Pollution Control Act;
  • certifications granted pursuant to the Realty Improvement Sewerage and Facilities Act;
  • certifications of proposed water supply and sewerage facilities granted pursuant to N.J.S.A.58:11-25.1 et seq.;
  • certifications issued and water quality management plans approved pursuant to the Water Quality Planning Act; and
  • approvals granted pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Excluded from the definition of “approval[s]” are:

  • federal government permits and approvals and certain other approvals that are affected by federal law;
  • certain Highlands permits and approvals;
  • permits and approvals issued by the State Department of Transportation pursuant to Title 27 of the New Jersey Statutes Annotated or under the general authority conferred by State law, other than certain right-of-way permits and certain permits granted pursuant to N.J.S.A. 27:7-1 et seq. or any supplement thereto;
  • certain permits and approvals issued pursuant to the Flood Hazard Area Control Act;
  • certain coastal center designations pursuant to the Coastal Area Facility Review Act; and
  • approvals in connection with resource recovery facilities.

Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) timeframes are also impacted:

  • The time within which a municipal agency must certify whether a development application is complete is extended to either 120 days after March 9, 2020, or 60 days after the date the application for development is submitted, whichever date is later, provided the development application was awaiting such certification as of March 9, 2020 or was submitted during the COVID-19 extension period.
  • The time within which a municipal agency must either grant or deny approval to a development application is extended by 120 days for any application awaiting certification as complete as of March 9, 2020 or pending before a municipal agency as of March 9, 2020. For applications submitted during the COVID-19 extension period, the time within which approval must be granted or denied is extended to either 120 days after March 9, 2020, or 60 days after the application is certified as complete, whichever date is later.

The statute is effective immediately.

  • Ryan A. Benson
    Associate

    Ryan Benson focuses on environmental and real estate and land use law. He assists clients on a wide range of related issues, including permitting (e.g., freshwater wetlands, flood hazard area and waterfront development), sewer ...

  • Agnes  Antonian
    Partner

    As Chair of Connell Foley's Environmental Law practice group, Agnes Antonian draws on her engineering background to address a broad range of complex environmental litigation and land use matters. Her environmental litigation ...

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