About two months ago, several NJ Legislators, including State Senator Paul Sarlo (Bergen/Passaic) and Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, proposed bills that would amend the 2008 “Permit Extension Act.” Designed to give developers breathing room in the sluggish economy by extending the validity of development approvals, Proposed Bill S743 (the “Bill” or “S743”) is gaining traction and is moving through the necessary legislative committees. On March 5, 2012, S743 passed by a vote of 4-0 by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The Bill is scheduled to go before the Assembly Appropriations Committee on March 12, 2012.

Under the current version of the Permit Extension Act, the expiration of all “approvals” that were granted during the “extension period” as defined in the statute have been tolled through December 31, 2012. The “extension period” is currently defined as “the period beginning January 1, 2007 and continuing through December 31, 2012.” S743 proposes that the definition of the “extension period” be changed so that it runs through December 31, 2014. Therefore, based on the 6-month tolling provision currently in the Permit Extension Act, approvals received during the extension period could be extended as far out as June 30, 2015. It should be noted that A337 proposed to extend the “extension period” through December 31, 2015. However, A337 has not gained the same head of steam as S743.

S743 as amended includes language to make it clear that as it pertains to Statewide planning areas, the definition of “extension area” shall remain in effect until June 30, 2013, or until such later time as the State Planning Commission revises and readopts New Jersey’s State Strategic Plan and adopts regulations to refine this definition. Further, all underlying municipal, county, and State permits or approvals within the Pinelands Area are extended pursuant to the “Pinelands Protection Act,” N.J.S.A. 13:18A-1 et seq.

The definition of “approvals” under the Permit Extension Act covers most permits issued by State rule or regulation, including, preliminary and final approvals for development applications under the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law. S743 proposes that the definition of “approvals” be amended to include any “agreement with a municipality, county, municipal authority, sewerage authority, or other governmental authority for the use or reservation of sewerage capacity.”

S743 appears to be the bill that may amend the Permit Extension Act to help developers that need to wait a little longer for the economy to bounce back to save projects for which they have spent significant funds in obtaining approvals for development.

Jason R. Tuvel is an Associate in the Gibbons Real Property & Environmental Law Department.