Real Property & Environmental Law Alert

Real Property & Environmental Law Alert

Transactional Real Estate, Development/Redevelopment & Environmental Law

Tag Archives: Regulations

EPA Proposes First Financial Assurances Rule

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
On December 1, 2016, following decades of inaction and a court order establishing a deadline by which the proposed rule was to be released, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) announced that it would publish a proposed rule regulating financial assurances required for parties conducting remediation projects in the hardrock mining industry. Section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) directed EPA to develop rules requiring “that classes of facilities establish and maintain evidence of financial responsibility consistent with the degree and duration of risk associated with the production, transportation, treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous wastes.” 42 U.S.C. 9608(b)(1). Although these rules were required to be promulgated by 1985, EPA never published any rules, which led to a deadline of December 1, 2016 being set by court order in response to a lawsuit complaining that EPA failed to comply with the statute. See In re Idaho Conservation League, 811 F.3d 502 (D.C. Cir. 2016). In the absence of such rules, EPA required financial assurance through negotiated settlements, orders, and guidance.… Continue Reading

N.J.’s Proposed Changes to Low Income Housing Tax Credit Qualified Allocation Plan Limit Projects per Developer and Encourage Development in Smart Growth Areas

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
The N.J. Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (“HMFA”) recently proposed changes to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (“LIHTC”) Qualified Allocation Plan (“QAP”). State housing credit agencies, like HMFA, are required to create plans which outline the selection criteria for awarding tax credits for the development of low- and moderate-income housing. The proposed amendments update the QAP to reflect procedural changes to the way in which affordable housing is constructed, but also include some substantive changes to both the allocation of tax credits among developers and the scoring system for awarding tax credits.… Continue Reading

FEMA Amendments to Base Floor Elevation Requirements, When Minor, Do Not Necessarily Give Rise to Hardship Showing for Height Variance Says NJ App Div

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
In its recent decision in Richmond URF, LLC v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of the City of Jersey City, the Appellate Division held that a minor alteration in base floor elevation requirements in the wake of FEMA’s amendments to the regulations after SuperStorm Sandy does not necessarily give rise to showing a hardship in support of a height variance under N.J.S.A. 40:55D-70(d)(6).… Continue Reading

EPA Provides Look Into Pending Financial Assurance Regulations

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
Recently, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA” or "the Agency") shared some preliminary details regarding its impending proposal of financial assurances regulations for the hardrock mining industry. These regulations, which are still under consideration by the Agency, will likely serve as a harbinger of the financial assurances requirements EPA intends to impose on other industries, and collectively, they have the potential to have a significant financial impact on parties responsible for cleaning up contaminated properties.… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Proposes Changes to Eagle Management Program

Posted in Development/Redevelopment, Environmental & Green Issues
On May 4, 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) proposed amendments to regulations governing its comprehensive eagle conservation and management program. The proposal follows a successful challenge by environmental groups to FWS’ prior attempt to change its eagle rules, which was tossed out by a federal judge in 2013. The proposed modifications include changes to the manner by which FWS issues permits allowing otherwise prohibited activities which may unintentionally injure or disturb golden and bald eagles.… Continue Reading

NJ Legislature Considers Invalidating NJDEP Regulations

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
On June 1, 2015, after significant outreach to the relevant stakeholders, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) released for public comment sweeping proposed changes to the rules governing Coastal Zone Management (CZM), N.J.A.C. 7:7E-1.1 et seq., Stormwater Management (SWM), N.J.A.C. 7:8-1.1 et seq., and the Flood Hazard Area Control Act (FHACA), N.J.A.C. 7:13-1.1 et seq. However, the New Jersey Legislature is poised to use its constitutional authority to find that the proposed regulations are inconsistent with the legislative intent of the enabling statutes.… Continue Reading

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Proposes New Rules Aimed at Streamlining Coastal Permitting Process

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
On June 10, 2014, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) introduced a series of proposed technical revisions to land use rules -- via a 1,055 page proposal -- designed to encourage redevelopment in coastal areas decimated by Hurricane Sandy. DEP Commissioner Bob Martin -- who also served on Governor Christie’s Red Tape Review Commission, which was launched in 2011 to streamline regulatory processes across state government -- explained that “[t]hese revisions will add clarity to our regulatory processes and provide better predictability in the regulatory process.”… Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Gives Downwind States Breathing Room Under the Clean Air Act

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
On April 29, 2014, in EPA, et al v. EME Homer City Generation, LP, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the US Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and its controversial “Transport Rule” which curbed nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions in 27 upwind states. The Supreme Court held it was appropriate to defer to EPA’s expertise in crafting a method of implementing the Clean Air Act’s (“CAA”) “Good Neighbor” provision to reduce pollution from upwind states onto their downwind neighbors.… Continue Reading

EPA Issues Final Rule Authorizing the Use of Electronic Manifests for Hazardous Waste

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
On January 13, 2014, EPA issued its final rule authorizing the use of electronic manifests for hazardous wastes. The rule implements provisions of the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act ("Act") signed into law in 2012, which directed EPA to establish a national electronic manifest system for tracking hazardous waste. Although the final rule has been promulgated, the electronic system to handle electronic manifests will not be available until 2015 at the earliest.… Continue Reading

Funding Available for Site Remediation in New Jersey

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
On December 18, 2013, Susanne Peticolas, a Director in the Gibbons Real Property & Environmental Department, moderated a panel, "There May Be Money for Your Client for Site Remediation," sponsored by the New Jersey Bar Association's Environmental Law Section. The program focused on the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund ("HDSRF"). Michael Deely, Supervisor for NJDEP's HDSRF program, cheered the audience by reporting that the long depleted fund once again has money for site remediation grants and loans.… Continue Reading

“From Ink to Occupancy” Real Estate Program at Gibbons P.C. Armed Attendees with Fundamentals & Information on the Latest Trends

Posted in Development/Redevelopment, Transactional Real Estate & Leasing
"From Ink to Occupancy, A Game Plan for a Successful Real Estate Project," the latest installation of the Gibbons Women's Initiative Seminar Series, was held earlier last week and attracted a great crowd, including real estate professionals and in-house counsel. Nancy A. Lottinville, Jennifer M. Porter and Ivette P. Alvarado guided attendees through the nuts and bolts of a commercial real estate contract, due diligence and the land use approvals process, with a focus on New Jersey and New York. A portion of the program was also dedicated to the current "Hot Topics" of real estate in New Jersey and New York, including FEMA's Advisory Base Flood Elevations and cross-access easement issues. Thanks to various requests from attendees for more information, the RPE Law Alert will be posting blogs over the course of the next few weeks expanding on the topics covered during the program. Watch for the next installation: "Properly Identifying the Property in the Contract: Are You Sure You Know What You're Getting?"… Continue Reading

In Clean Water Act Case, Three Justices Invite Future Challenge to Rule of Deference to Agencies in Interpretation of Their Own Regulations

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
A victory in the Supreme Court is generally welcome news for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But, the Court's decision last month in a Clean Water Act case may foreshadow a sweeping change in administrative law that would certainly not please EPA or other agencies: the end of a long-standing rule of judicial deference to agencies in the interpretation of their own regulations.… Continue Reading

More Streamlining of Permit Procedures for Rebuilding After Superstorm Sandy

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
A recent news release on the NJDEP website discusses new efforts by the Christie Administration to streamline vital rebuilding projects necessitated by the destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy. The new rules, which were adopted on an emergency basis on April 16th, are intended to eliminate some of the red tape typically associated with permit procedures, while ensuring the protection of coastal resources and encouraging the rebuilding of a more resilient New Jersey coastline. This is just the latest action taken by the Governor and NJDEP to ease the burden on residents, businesses and municipalities seeking to rebuild. Beginning as early as five days after the storm swept through New Jersey, actions were already being taken to waive permitting requirements for those rebuilding vital infrastructure such as roads and bridges. More recently, the Christie Administration adopted a streamlined process for property owners wanting to rebuild to new elevation standards in flood zones.… Continue Reading

Raising Standards for Rebuilding After Sandy

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
For the first time in more than two decades, the Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA") has updated its Advisory Base Flood Elevation ("ABFE") maps for New Jersey's coastal counties. The Christie Administration adopted these new standards as an emergency measure on January 24, 2013, and through formal NJDEP regulations, has now made them permanent. The revised FEMA elevations, which remain subject to change, are anywhere from two to four feet higher on average than the standards that had been in effect prior to Hurricane Sandy. New Jersey residents, particularly those impacted by flooding from Hurricane Sandy, should be aware of this change, as the NJDEP has incorporated these revised maps as the new standard throughout the state for the elevation of reconstructed homes in flood zones.… Continue Reading

Appellate Court Upholds NJDEP “Waiver Rule”

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
In a decision that gives the green light to an important component of the Christie Administration's "Common Sense Principles" approach to regulation, the Appellate Division has upheld the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (NJDEP) "waiver rule," which permits the department to waive strict compliance with many of its regulations in defined circumstances. Full implementation of the rule will have to wait, however, as the Appellate Court invalidated a variety of forms and guidance documents that NJDEP had posted on its website without going through the normal rulemaking process required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).… Continue Reading

NJDEP Posts FAQs on Post-Sandy Flood Elevation Standards

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection ("NJDEP") recently issued its answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the emergency amendments to New Jersey's Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules. The emergency regulations were signed into law by New Jersey Governor Christie on January 24, 2013, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The new regulations adopt the Federal Emergency Management Agency's ("FEMA") updated Advisory Base Flood Elevation ("ABFEs") maps as the rebuilding standard for the entire state. The rules set minimum elevation standards for the reconstruction of houses and buildings in areas that are in danger of flooding. Because the rules are complex and so many officials and the public are affected, NJDEP issued the FAQs explaining the benefits of the amendments, who is covered, and tips for getting started.… Continue Reading

Brand New Philadelphia Zoning Code Amended After Only 5 Months

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
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.… Continue Reading

Developer Alert: Philadelphia Looking to Establish Land Bank Under New State Legislation

Posted in Development/Redevelopment, Tax Abatement
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.… Continue Reading

Action Required: NJDEP Implements New Vapor Intrusion Screening Levels

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection ("NJDEP") recently issued new vapor intrusion screening levels ("VISL") and related guidelines, which will have an immediate impact on existing remediation sites. The screening levels were updated to reflect the changes in toxicity values and risk-based equations set forth in the United States Environmental Protection Agency's ("USEPA") most recent Regional Screening Level ("RSL") Tables. NJDEP implemented the new VISL as of January 16, 2013. Parties conducting remediations and their Licensed Site Remediation Professionals will need to analyze how these new screening levels impact their sites.… Continue Reading

A Super Step in Superfund Regulation? Time Will Tell: EPA Releases Guidance on Negotiation of RD/RA at Superfund Sites and a Revised Settlement Approach for Alternate Sites

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
In the controversial area of Superfund regulation, the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") appears to be making steps toward more successful and more efficient negotiation of remedial design ("RD")/remedial action ("RA") settlements in Superfund cases. EPA recently released its Revised Policy on Managing the Duration of Remedial Design/Remedial Action Negotiations ("the Negotiation Policy") and Transmittal of Updated Superfund Response and Settlement Approach for Sites Using the Superfund Alternative Approach ("Alternative Approach").… Continue Reading

New York State Again Defers Decisions Regarding Hydraulic Fracturing

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
On November 28, 2012, New York State confirmed that its health assessment of the proposed regulations governing hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking," being conducted by a panel of three leading public health experts, would be delayed. Immediately thereafter, the State's Department of Environmental Conservation ("NYSDEC") filed for a 90-day extension of the November 29, 2012, regulatory deadline for finalizing fracking regulations.… Continue Reading

Opening the Flood Gates?: U.S. Supreme Court Holds That Takings Clause Covers Temporary Flooding

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
When government actions cause flooding of your land, does it constitute a "taking" that triggers the Fifth Amendment's requirement of "just compensation?" Supreme Court precedent dating back to 1872 teaches that when the flooding is permanent, such as when a new dam creates a lake, a compensable taking has occurred. But what if the flooding is only temporary? Can that constitute a taking? The Federal Circuit said, "Never." In Arkansas Game and Fish Commission v. United States, the Supreme Court disagreed, and said, "Sometimes."… Continue Reading