Offshore Wind Projects Obtain Expedited Approval Process

Offshore wind projects are inching closer to fruition.  As described in an article on philly.com today, the federal Department of the Interior reported yesterday that portions of the continental shelf off the New Jersey coast are one of several "high-priority" areas in the Mid-Atlantic that would get expedited review for regulatory approval.  In an apparent effort to streamline the wind energy approval processes, the Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement will prepare broad regional environmental assessments as opposed to the previous requirement that each individual wind developer prepare its own study.  As the article notes, the policy change is expected to shave about two years off of the nearly decade long approval process.

S1481 - The Rice Bill Unveiled

Recently, the New Jersey Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee reported favorably on Senate Bill No. 1451 (S1451) with Committee amendments. The so-called Rice Bill, named after the State Senator primarily responsible for seeking reform, proposes to amend significantly the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law. The Eminent Domain Act of 1971 and the Relocation Assistance Act of 1971 would also be amended. As a basis for reform, the legislation itself states that the Legislature received input from a number of interested citizens and interest groups over an extended period of time. 

S1451 proposes to create two tracks for municipal designation of redevelopment areas: the first as a non-condemnation redevelopment area and the second as a condemnation redevelopment area. For the latter, enhanced requirements will be built into the statute consistent with two seminal cases decided within the last few years, Harrison Redev. Agency v. DeRose, 398 N.J. Super. 361 (App. Div. 2008) and Gallenthin Realty Development, Inc. v. Borough of Paulsboro, 191 N.J. 344 (2007). Under this legislation, a municipality will be required to give notice to a property owner informing that their property is at risk of being forcibly taken for redevelopment purposes, giving them a time frame within which they can contest the redevelopment designation. Further, blight determinations must be recorded at the County Recording Office. Finally, the redevelopment designation will lapse after a period of time unless redevelopment work is ongoing.

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The Time of the Application Rule - The New Standard for Land Development Applications

On May 5, 2010, Governor Christie signed legislation that represents a shift in the long-standing right of a municipality to amend or alter its land development regulations after an applicant has filed a land development application. The legislation, S-82, modifies the development application process under the Municipal Land Use Law to afford significant benefits to developers. 

S-82, commonly referred to as the “time of application” or “time of decision” legislation, provides that a land development application will be governed by the municipal development regulations in effect at the time that the application is submitted, and any provisions of any ordinance adopted subsequent to the submission date are not applicable to the application filed prior. However, the new legislation does not extend to ordinances that are adopted relative to health and public safety, and thus an applicant will continue to be subject to the reach of such ordinances to the extent applicable. The legislation affects development applications submitted on or after May 5, 2011, which gives municipalities time to update their Master Plans and zoning ordinances in anticipation of the new procedures.  

 

Although the legislation does not guarantee in any way that an application will be granted, it clarifies the development regulations by which the application will be examined.   As Governor Christie noted, “[t]his legislation makes common sense changes to improve the application process and move New Jersey in the right direction of providing a friendlier environment for job creation, while keeping safeguards for public health and safety in place." 

 

A copy of the legislation can be viewed by clicking on the following link.  

New Jersey's Site Remediation Reform Act

     The following entry was written by Burton J. Jaffe, Esq., a real estate attorney resident in Fox Rothschild's Princeton office.  Burt can be contacted at (609) 895-6630 or at bjaffe@foxrothschild.com

 

     On November 3, 2009 the Site Remediation Reform Act, NJSA 58:10C-1 et seq. (the “Act”) becomes effective. The Act materially changes the role of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) with respect to the remediation of contaminated property in New Jersey.

     The Act changes the role of NJDEP from direct supervision of the remediation of contaminated sites to a compliance, enforcement and monitoring role of independent professionals conducting such work. The professionals must be licensed by the Site Remediation Professional Licensing Board which is established in NJDEP. The Board’s mandate is to establish licensing requirements for site remediation professionals and to oversee the licensing and performance of site remediation professionals.

     Additionally, the Act requires the NJDEP to inspect all documents and information submitted by a licensed site remediation professional, authorizes NJDEP to review the performance of a clean up under a broad range of circumstances (NJDEP can audit a clean up for up to three years after its conclusion) and mandates that NJDEP undertake direct oversight of contaminated sites under certain conditions and authorizes, but does not require, NJDEP to undertake direct oversight under certain other conditions.

     The purpose of the Act is to improve the speed of site clean-ups and the Act is carefully designed to accomplish this purpose without lessening the stringent remediation requirements already in place in New Jersey.

Municipalities May Still Be Charging COAH Fees: Do You Have To Pay?

The New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing recently published a “NRDF Moratorium FAQ” sheet (available here), advising municipalities that “if a preliminary or final site plan approval was granted prior to July 17, 2008, and said approval includes a requirement for a non-residential development fee under a COAH or Court approved development fee ordinance, that fee can still be collected (i.e. 1% or 2%), provided building permits are issued for the development prior to January 1, 2013.”

At least one municipality is acting on such advice, and refusing to release building permits and/or certificates of occupancy until the previously required ordinance fee is paid. 

But is COAH’s advice consistent with the Stimulus Act? Probably not.

While the statute has yet to be interpreted by the courts, Section 36 (e) of the Stimulus Act states as follows: “The [NRDF Act] prohibits municipalities from imposing their own fees to fund affordable housing on non-residential development, and [the Stimulus Act] is not intended to alter this underlying policy.” (emphasis added).

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Corzine Conditionally Vetoes Senate Bill No. 2577

On Monday, May 4, 2009, Governor Corzine placed a conditional veto on Senate Bill No. 2577, which permits the conversion of age-restricted developments to non-age-restricted developments. 

Under the original bill as approved by both houses of the Legislature, developers would be entitled to convert any age-restricted housing development that has received preliminary and final land use approval to a non-age-restricted development provided that the developer (1) has not accepted any deposits or conveyed any units to buyers under the age-restricted program, and (2) agrees to set aside a percentage of units in the development not to exceed 20% to affordable housing. The bill originally provided the local land use board only the right to review parking standards, recreation and other amenities, water supply and sanitary sewer systems to ensure that those elements were adequate for the amended project.

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