As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to significantly affect all aspects of the real estate industry, the legislature of the State of New Jersey has passed amendments to the Municipal Land Use Law (the “MLUL”), codified at N.J.S.A. 40D:55-1, et. seq. The amendments contained in Assembly Bill A-3919 will have a significant effect on pending real estate projects, both those that have received land use approvals and those with pending applications before municipal land use boards.
The amendments define the “COVID-19 extension period” as the period beginning March 9, 2020 and continuing as long as either the public health emergency or the state of emergency declared by Governor Murphy remains in effect. For “any government approval either in existence on March 9, 2020 or granted during the COVID-19 extension period”, the Permit Extension Act of 2008 (the “Act”) codified at N.J.S.A. 40:55D:136-1, et. seq. was amended to suspend the running of the period of approval during the COVID-19 extension period. The suspension applies to any of the State, county or municipal approvals listed in the Act. The tolling shall not extend “more than six months beyond the conclusion of the COVID-19 extension period." However, for any construction project for which work was suspended pursuant to Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No, 122, the maximum extension period shall be 12 months after the conclusion of the COVID-19 extension period.
For real estate projects with pending applications for development, the amendments to the MLUL will enlarge the time for a municipality to deem an application for development complete. The 45-day review period as set forth in N.J.S.A. 40:55D-10.3 will be extended to the later of 90 days after March 9, 2020 or 60 days after the date the application for development was filed with the municipal agency, whichever date is later. These enlarged time periods will apply to any application for development that was awaiting certification of completeness by a municipality as of March 9, 2020 or filed during the COVID-19 extension period.
In addition, the amendments to the MLUL enlarge the time period in which a planning board or zoning board of adjustment has to act on an application for development. The time of decision period is extended for 60 days. This enlargement applies to all applications that are awaiting certification of completeness by the municipal agency as of March 9, 2020, those applications pending before a planning board or zoning board of adjustment as of March 9, 2020 and applications submitted during the COVID-19 extension period. If signed into law, the amendments shall take effect immediately and will be retroactive to March 9, 2020.
For further information as to how these amendments will affect your real estate development project and for other information as to the importance of these amendments in determining the validity of your land use approvals, please contact Jeffrey Rich, Chair of the Commercial Real Estate & Redevelopment Law Practice Group via email or 732.758.0117 or Partner Jennifer Mazawey here or at 973.535.7126.