Permit Extension Act of 2020

During the first week of July 2020, New Jersey Governor Murphy signed the Permit Extension Act (PEA) of 2020. This law extends the term of certain permits, approvals, and deadlines during the public health emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic. As stated in the law, it is “appropriate to toll the term of approvals during a new COVID-19 extension period in order to prevent the abandonment of approved projects and activities, and the waste of public and private resources that comes with it, as well as to be ready to quickly resume projects when it is safe to restart normal business and government activity.”

For a permit/approval in existence on and after March 9, 2020, the PEA tolls the term of the permit/approval until the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. The extension period continues for as long as the public health emergency is in effect, and eligible permits/approvals are extended for at least six months beyond the conclusion of the extension period (i.e., the end of the public health emergency). Moreover, if a construction project has been suspended pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order No. 122 or any other government order, the tolling period shall be 12 months beyond the conclusion of the COVID-19 extension period.

Examples of common permits/approvals covered by the PEA include: Soil Erosion & Sediment Control Plan Certification; permits issued by the NJDEP, Division of Land Use Regulation; Certificate of Filing from the NJ Pinelands Commission; septic permits; approvals granted by a municipal authority pursuant to the Municipal and County Utilities Authorities law; sewage capacity agreements; Preliminary and Final approvals granted by a municipality pursuant to the Municipal Land Use Law; well drilling permits; and wastewater management plan approvals.

Unlike the Permit Extension Act of 2008, the PEA of 2020 does not exclude projects or sites located in certain planning areas or designated environmentally sensitive areas; projects located in all planning areas and in environmentally sensitive areas are covered by the PEA of 2020.

The PEA requires that eligible permits/approvals be “registered” with the applicable state agency. A notice is to be published in the New Jersey Register indicating the start of the registration period. The law requires that eligible permits/approvals be registered within 30 days of the date the notice is published in the New Jersey Register. If a permit/approval is not registered with the agency, it will not be covered by the PEA. As of the date of this e-mail, the NJDEP has not provided guidance or instructions for registering permits/approvals.

In addition, the PEA extends the time frames within which municipalities must act on development applications pursuant to the Municipal Land Use Law. For example, the time frame within which a municipal agency must either grant or deny approval to a development application is extended to either 120 days after March 9, 2020, or 60 days after the application is deemed complete, whichever date is later.

For additional information, or for assistance with determining if your permit/approval is covered by the PEA, please contact either Don Brickner (don.brickner@marathonconsultants.com; 856-241-9705) or Dave Fleming (dave.fleming@marathonconsultants.com; 856-241-9705).