Yesterday, Governor Edward G. Rendell signed into law the Permit Extension Act (S.B. 1042), providing relief to owners and developers whose projects have stalled in the troubled economy.

Subject to exceptions discussed below, development approvals, permits, agreements, authorizations, and decisions in effect January 1, 2009, or after are extended to July 1, 2013. The extension is automatic, except in the City of Philadelphia, where the approval holder must first give notice to the applicable City agency. 

In all municipalities, the approval holder may request written verification from the issuing government agency of the existence and new expiration date of the approval. The agency must respond within 30 days or face a deemed affirmation of the approval and the expiration date set forth in the request for verification (except in Philadelphia, where the deemed affirmation is unavailable). The Act also extends the time in which to create additional units and common elements out of convertible real estate in a condominium or planned community. 

Although the term "approval" is broadly defined in the Act, there are a few significant exceptions:

  • In Philadelphia, the Act appears limited to a building permit, a zoning and use registration permit, and any approval that is a condition for issuance of a building, zoning and/or use registration permit.

  • The Act appears to limit relief for certain Department of Environmental Protection storm water control permits that include provisions implementing DEP's anti-degradation rules for discharges to surface waters or wetlands classified as high-quality waters or exceptional-value waters during construction activities, and may not apply at all for certain federal permits controlling such discharges.

  • The Act does not apply to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation approvals, except that PennDOT highway occupancy permits will be extended, upon submission of an application, throughout the extension period for one-year intervals, subject to modifications based on changed circumstances.

  • The Act does not limit the authority of a government agency to suspend or revoke an approval for noncompliance with a written condition of the approval, to enforce conditions of approvals granted before January 1, 2009, or to enforce conditions that are required to be performed before final plan approval under the Municipalities Planning Code.

The Act benefits not only landowners, lenders, and construction trades, but also supports local municipalities in protecting the tax base.

Lawyers in Ballard Spahr's Zoning and Land Use Group worked with legislative staff in the drafting of the Permit Extension Act. Should you have questions about the Act or how it affects a particular project, please contact Tina R. Makoulian, 215.864.8713 or makoulian@ballardspahr.com; Harry Weiss, 215.864.8129 or weiss@ballardspahr.com; Matthew N. McClure, 215.864.8771 or mcclure@ballardspahr.com; or any member of Ballard Spahr's Zoning and Land Use Group.


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