At the end of last week, the New Jersey State Senate (“Senate”) introduced Bill S3116 that proposes to continue the moratorium on the statewide non-residential development fee (the “Fee”) that expired on July 1, 2013. Since July 1, 2013, developers and land use attorneys have been in a state of flux with regard to whether the fee applies to development projects. If passed, this legislation would extend the moratorium to December 31, 2014.
Starting August 31, 2013, municipalities will have to provide advance notice electronically or by mail of certain proceedings to landowners who have requested such notice in writing. Under amendments to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett on July 2, 2013, municipalities must provide landowners with the requested electronic notice or mailed notice of public hearings regarding the enactment of zoning ordinances and amendments.
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.
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.
The revised Philadelphia Zoning Code will be effective before your Labor Day barbeque is over, and there is a smorgasbord of changes to digest. For instance, let’s take “notice,” a contentious issue the new Code seeks to resolve with procedural safeguards and requirements. A frequent area of conflict under the current (soon to be former) Code centered on interactions between developers and neighbors during the zoning/use approval process. Many times, a developer would complain that it did not know which neighborhood civic association represented a particular area, or that a civic association’s meeting schedule resulted in delays in the zoning hearing and approval process. Conversely, neighbors would charge that they were not given adequate notice of applications filed or permits issued with enough lead time to have meaningful input into the process. The revised Code seeks to balance the property owner/developer’s interest in certainty, both in terms of time required to complete the application process and identification of potentially interested parties, against the neighbors’ need for notice of the application and an opportunity to participate.
New York Appellate Division Strikes Conditions of Approval Unrelated to Site Plan Which Arose from Applicant’s Past Conduct
In its recent decision in the Matter of Kempisty v. Town of Geddes, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, provides an important reminder to approving authorities that conditions attached to the approval of site plans must have some legitimate relationship or “nexus” to the project’s impacts or they will be stricken. Although the case breaks no new ground, it does effectively outline the considerations that should be applied when determining whether to impose conditions of approval.
Ready or not, the revised Philadelphia Zoning Code becomes effective on August 22, 2012. This massive and comprehensive overhaul of the Zoning Code, its first since 1962, required over four years to complete. It was coordinated by the thirty-one member Philadelphia Zoning Code Commission, and is the culmination of countless hours of work by the ZCC, including scores of regular meetings, informational meetings, community meetings, meetings with stakeholder groups and public hearings. The changes from the current Code are many and significant, with important modifications to base and overlay zoning districts, use categories, area and bulk requirements, floor area ratio calculations, parking standards and, perhaps most meaningful, the administrative process. We will be examining these and other major revisions in this blog on a regular basis, both as the Code’s implementation date approaches as well as after it is in effect.
The Extension of the Permit Extension Act is on the Move, To Be Reviewed Today By Assembly Appropriations Committee
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.
Apparently concerned that the economy may not be recovering rapidly enough, the 215th New Jersey Legislature now convened, introduced a new bill (A337) on January 10, 2012, by Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer of District 12, to change the definition of the “extension period” under the Permit Extension Act so that it runs through December 31, 2015. Therefore, based on the 6-month tolling provision currently in the Permit Extension Act, approvals received for development applications during the extension period could be extended as far out as June 30, 2016. Bill A337 has been referred to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.
This week marks both the one-month mark since the International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) annual RECON conference, as well as the end of the first half of 2011. RECON attendance surpassed 30,000 attendees for the first time since 2008, but still remains substantially off attendance levels reached several years ago. Although there was a fair amount of activity at this year’s show, particularly in the retail area on the second floor of South Hall, impressions of the climate for getting deals done were mixed, much like the economic indicators which have been circulating in recent months. Nevertheless, cautious optimism seems to be a fairly common theme in the retail sector for the remainder of 2011, and somewhat more enthusiastic optimism for 2012 and beyond.