NYSDEC Adopts Update to SEQR Regulations

NYSDEC Adopts Update to SEQR Regulations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) announced on June 28, 2018 that it had adopted a rulemaking package directed at updating its regulations relating to the State Environmental Quality Review (“SEQR”). The updates – DEC’s first to its SEQR regulations in more than two decades – are the product of an effort that began in February 2017 with the DEC’s filing of an initial notice and, following a series of public comment periods and subsequent revisions, culminated with its publication of the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (“FGEIS”) and revised text of the regulations. As revised, the regulations become effective on January 1, 2019 and apply to all actions for which a determination of significance has not been made by January 1, 2019. For projects that receive a determination of significance made prior to January 1, 2019, the existing SEQR regulations (which originally took effect in 1996) will continue to apply. Once effective, the revised regulations could have a significant impact on SEQR’s applicability to future development projects. The new regulations contemplate a number of mechanical changes to the environmental review process itself, including mandatory scoping of environmental impact statements, changes to the required content of environmental impact...

An Application for Development Must Include All Checklist Items for Protection of “Time of Application” Rule to Apply, New Jersey Supreme Court Says

An Application for Development Must Include All Checklist Items for Protection of “Time of Application” Rule to Apply, New Jersey Supreme Court Says

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled today, in a unanimous opinion in a case of first impression captioned Dunbar Homes, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of the Township of Franklin, et al., that to receive the protection of the “time of application” rule, an application must comply with the definition of “application for development” in the Municipal Land Use Law (“MLUL”), meaning that it must include all of the items required by the submission checklist which the municipality has adopted by ordinance. This case constitutes the first time the Supreme Court has interpreted the “time of application” rule, and its decision will impact the review of development applications throughout the state. The MLUL’s “time of application” rule provides that the ordinances and regulations in effect “on the date of submission of an application for development” govern review of that application. This reversed the longstanding “time of decision” rule whereby municipalities could change the zoning regulations at any time prior to the approval of an application for development, even where the change was enacted during a public hearing process specifically for the purpose of derailing a pending application. Under the “time of application” rule, the date upon which “an application...

NJ Municipality’s Implied Acceptance of a Private Lane as a Public Road Requires Actions Consistent with Ownership or Evidencing Intent to Treat the Lane as Dedicated to Public Use

NJ Municipality’s Implied Acceptance of a Private Lane as a Public Road Requires Actions Consistent with Ownership or Evidencing Intent to Treat the Lane as Dedicated to Public Use

The New Jersey Appellate Division recently affirmed the Chancery Division’s determination that a municipality only impliedly accepts a private lane as a public road if it takes actions consistent with ownership or that otherwise evidence an intent to treat the land as dedicated to public use. In Holloway v. McManus, et al., an unpublished decision, an applicant sought to subdivide his property, which had access solely by way of a 25 foot wide unimproved dirt and gravel lane running across the McManus defendants’ land, into 13 residential lots. In connection with this application, the applicant requested the Township of Jackson provide permanent access to the property by declaring the unimproved lane a public road. The unimproved lane was depicted on a number of public documents, including: (i) a 1974 survey, which showed the path as a 10 to 12 foot “sand road”; (ii) the Township’s tax maps, which indicated the lane was a 25 foot “utility access easement”; and (iii) a 2002 subdivision map, submitted to the Township by another non-party development, which showed the path as a 25 foot “dirt and gravel utility access easement to be dedicated to [the] Township,” which was referenced in the legal description of...

Time of Application Rule Protects Against Zoning Changes Only if an Application for Development Complies with All Ordinance Submission Requirements, New Jersey Appellate Court Rules

Time of Application Rule Protects Against Zoning Changes Only if an Application for Development Complies with All Ordinance Submission Requirements, New Jersey Appellate Court Rules

The New Jersey Appellate Division, in the published decision Dunbar Homes, Inc. v. The Zoning Board of Adjustment of the Township of Franklin, et al., recently declared what materials a developer must submit to a municipal land use board in order to constitute an “application for development” which triggers the protections of the Municipal Land Use Law’s (“MLUL”) “time of application” rule, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-10.5. Dunbar Homes establishes that an application is afforded the protections of the “time of application” rule from the time when an applicant submits an application form and all accompanying documents required by ordinance for approval. A formal finding that an application is “complete” by the municipality is not required. Thus, Dunbar Homes requires that the application essentially must be complete, even though that need has not yet been officially determined. The MLUL’s “time of application” rule provides that the ordinances and regulations in effect “on the date of submission of an application for development” govern review of that application. This reverses the longstanding “time of decision” rule whereby municipalities could change the zoning regulations at any time prior to the approval of an application for development, even where the change was enacted during a public hearing process...

NYSDEC Announces Proposed Amendments to SEQRA Regulations

NYSDEC Announces Proposed Amendments to SEQRA Regulations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) recently announced proposed amendments to the regulations implementing the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”), 6 N.Y.C.R.R. Part 617. The amendments mark the first update to the SEQRA regulations in over 20 years. According to a press release issued by the NYSDEC, “[t]he update is designed to encourage smart growth and sustainable development across the state” and is intended to compliment the agency’s implementation of the New York State Lean Initiative, which the NYSDEC says has “improved public responsiveness and performance at DEC while maintaining high standards of environmental and natural resource protection.” The press release explains that “[t]he proposed amendments to SEQR will both streamline and strengthen the State’s environmental review process by expanding the actions not subject to further review, known as Type II actions, modifying certain thresholds for actions deemed more likely to require the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS), making scoping of an EIS mandatory rather than optional, and making the acceptance procedures for a draft EIS more consistent.” Examples of proposed Type II actions that would be added to the SEQR regulations include: installation of broadband within an existing right-of-way; green infrastructure upgrades or...

New Jersey’s Time of Application Rule Does Not Bar a Favorable Zoning Amendment 0

New Jersey’s Time of Application Rule Does Not Bar a Favorable Zoning Amendment

In a published decision, the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled on July 27 that the “time of application” rule, which mandates that development applications are governed by the regulations in effect at the time of submission, and was intended to protect applicants from negative zone changes while their applications were pending, does not apply to zone changes which benefit a project.

Legislature Approves Retroactive One-Year Extension of New Jersey’s Permit Extension Act in Superstorm Sandy-Impacted Counties 0

Legislature Approves Retroactive One-Year Extension of New Jersey’s Permit Extension Act in Superstorm Sandy-Impacted Counties

New Jersey’s Permit Extension Act (“PEA”) sunsetted at the end of 2015 when the Legislature did not enact a further extension. It has now been resurrected and extended retroactively, for one additional year, in nine counties most impacted by Superstorm Sandy. 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.” The purpose of the PEA was to toll, through the end of 2012, expiration of various approvals necessary for development. The PEA was later amended in 2012, due to the then “current national recession,” to extend the tolling of the expiration of those approvals until December 31, 2014, and a subsequent amendment extended it until December 31, 2015.

Retail Liquor License Renewals Now Due 0

Retail Liquor License Renewals Now Due

All New Jersey retail liquor licenses for the 2015-2016 license term expire on June 30, 2016. All New Jersey retail liquor licensees should have received notification in April through the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s (ABC’s) web-based system, POSSE ABC, to renew their liquor licenses utilizing the ABC’s online portal. Subject to the specific renewal deadline fixed by each municipality, all state and municipal retail liquor license renewal fees for the 2016-2017 license term are currently due. Prior to renewal, all retail liquor licensees must also receive an Alcoholic Beverage Retail License Clearance Certificate for renewal from the Division of Taxation.

No Further Extensions of New Jersey’s Permit Extension Act 0

No Further Extensions of New Jersey’s Permit Extension Act

The state legislature took no action to further extend New Jersey’s Permit Extension Act (“PEA”) during the recently concluded legislative session, which means that permits and approvals extended by the PEA’s tolling period either have expired or will expire soon. Pursuant to the terms of the act, the expiration date for most approvals covered by the PEA are tolled through June 30, 2016, with certain approvals expiring before that date, making right now the time to evaluate projects approaching construction to determine which existing approvals were extended by the PEA, the exact expiration date of such approvals, and whether further extensions are available under other laws. After such an evaluation, developers and project managers can then determine whether approval rights can be fully vested prior to their expiration date and, if not, whether an extension, amendment, or renewal of the approval is required.

New Jersey Appellate Court Rules Redeveloper Cannot Compel Amendments to Redevelopment Plan 0

New Jersey Appellate Court Rules Redeveloper Cannot Compel Amendments to Redevelopment Plan

Redevelopment agreements are the tool used to memorialize the respective obligations of the redeveloper and the municipality to effectuate a redevelopment project. Often, a concept plan has been agreed upon, but changes to the site-specific zoning embodied in the redevelopment plan are necessary in order for the project to advance. In an unpublished decision earlier this year, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, ruled in Fieldstone Associates, L.P. v. Borough of Merchantville, A-1239-13T3, that the municipality cannot be contractually compelled to adopt such amendments.