New Jersey’s Permit Extension Act (“PEA”) was initially enacted in 2008 — in response to “the crisis in the real estate finance sector of the economy” — for the purpose of tolling, through the end of 2012, expiration of various approvals necessary for development. It was later extended, in 2012, due to the then “current national recession,” to extend the tolling of the expiration of those approvals until December 31, 2014. Unless the Legislature approves a further extension, the PEA will sunset at the end of this year, and that could pose a problem for projects which have not yet started construction, because their approvals may expire.
The PEA provides for tolling of any “approval,” as defined in the statute, which is or was in existence during the extension period (January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2014). Although there are important exceptions, most subdivision, site plan and variance approvals granted pursuant to the Municipal Land Use Law are encompassed within covered “approvals,” as are many approvals granted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC), Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission, New Jersey Pinelands Commission, and various other agencies.
The PEA further provides that “the running of the period of approval is automatically suspended for the extension period” (i.e., through December 31, 2014), but tolling “shall not extend the government approval for more than six months beyond the conclusion of the extension period” (i.e., through June 30, 2015). The PEA also shall not “shorten the duration that any approval would have had in the absence of [the PEA].” Thus, any included “approval” which was granted or which was set to expire after January 1, 2007, was extended by the PEA through the end of this year.