Legal Alert

Philadelphia Zoning and Land Use Update - March 25, 2022

March 25, 2022

Pending Bills in the New Jersey State Legislature for the 2022-2023 Legislative Session

The New Jersey Legislature has introduced a number of bills for the upcoming Legislative Session that concern the issuance of zoning and building permits, regulation of construction work, and zoning and land use rules. Below, we summarize those pertinent bills. While such bills are early in the legislative process, the Ballard Spahr Zoning and Land Use Team will continue to monitor their progression.

Assembly Bill, No. 580. Introduced on January 11, 2022, by Robert J. Karabinchack (D) and referred to the Assembly Housing Committee.

This Bill supplements and amends the State Uniform Construction Code Act and proposes an optional expedited plan review process, upon submission of a construction permit application and payment of an additional fee. The expedited application must be accepted, denied, or denied in part within 10 calendar days of submission. Where a municipality does not offer an expedited plan review process, a private plan review agency may review the plan, provided the private agency is properly licensed and meets requirements set out by the local enforcing agency. The local enforcing agency retains a portion of the construction permit fees because it must supervise the construction and issue a certificate of occupancy upon completion.

Assembly Bill, No. 1025. Introduced on January 11, 2022, by Jay Weber (R), Harold J. Wirths (R), and Parker Space (R) and referred to the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.

This Bill would amend the “90-Day Law,” which requires that within 90 days the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approve or deny a completed application for waterfront development permits, coastal wetland permits, stream encroachment or flood hazard area permits, Coastal Area Facility Review Act permits, or treatment works permits. The rule currently allows for a 30-day extension period provided DEP requests the extension at least 15 days prior to the 90-day expiration date and the applicant approves. The Bill would limit such extensions to situations where DEP needs additional information that is dependent on specific seasonal or weather conditions. Where such information cannot be obtained within the limited timeframe, the application will be deemed to have met the necessary criteria for approval or conditional approval.

Assembly Bill, No. 1440. Introduced January 11, 2022, by James J. Kennedy (D) and referred to Assembly Housing Committee.

This Bill creates the “Zero Energy Construction Act,” which would provide that a construction permit cannot be issued, for applications filed on or after January 1, 2025, to a developer for a new residential or commercial building unless the permit requires that the building is a “zero energy ready” building. The Bill defines a zero energy ready building as “an energy efficient building where, on a source energy basis, the actual annual delivered energy is less than or equal to the on-site renewable exported energy.” The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) must provide information regarding the positive environmental impacts and the future associated savings to prospective owners of zero energy ready buildings on the DCA website, and every contract of sale for buildings subject to the Act must include a notification to the prospective buyer that the developer will be constructing a zero energy building.

Senate Bill, No. 580: Introduced on January 11, 2022, by Samuel D. Thompson (R) and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

In response to the devastating collapse of a 40-year-old condominium building in Surfside, Florida, Senator Thompson introduced this Bill to prevent a similar occurrence in New Jersey. This Bill requires that the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs establish a building safety inspection program for buildings and other structures more than 40 years old to confirm their structural soundness and condition. The Bill creates an exemption for single-family homes and federal government-owned buildings, as well as the right for the Commissioner to create additional exemptions for other buildings and structures. Owners would have 150 days to rectify any violations. Inspections would occur every five years following the initial inspection.

For specific guidance, please reach out to members of the Ballard Spahr Zoning and Land Use Team, which continues to monitor all aspects of the land use approval process in metropolitan Philadelphia, including the issuance of zoning and building permits, regulation of construction work, and zoning and land use legislation.

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This alert is a periodic publication of Ballard Spahr LLP and is intended to notify recipients of new developments in the law. It should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own attorney concerning your situation and specific legal questions you have.

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