Two Bills of Concern Scheduled for Final Votes on Monday
Monday, January 13, is the last scheduled day for the current legislative session. All bills that are not passed and sent to Governor by noon, Tuesday die and must be reintroduced in the new session that officially begins on Tuesday.
While we are pleased to report that bills of major concern that we have brought to your attention, including an expansion of 20 and out and the bills regarding OPRA and OPMA are NOT scheduled for consideration, we do want to bring to your attention two bills of concern to municipalities.
Please take action by Monday.
I. Bill Expands Use of Preserved Farmlands Without Municipal Oversight
Yesterday, the Assembly Appropriations Committee approved legislation, opposed by the League, that seeks to greatly expand the number and type of events that can be held on preserved farmland. The Assembly Committee Substitute for A-5384/A-5157 allows the owners of preserved farmland to host, by right, a number of special occasion events such as music, food, and other festivals, car shows, and weddings, all without municipal review, oversight or even prior notification.
Further, we believe that this legislation circumvents the objectives of the State’s successful farmland preservation efforts, in which public dollars have been committed to permanently preserve prime agricultural lands throughout the Garden State. At the time such easements were bought and paid for, it was not allowed nor anticipated that these preserved farmlands would be used for the kind of nonagricultural activities this bill seeks to permit.
These bills will now be voted on by the full Assembly, which is scheduled for Monday, January 13.
We urge you to contact your representatives in the Assembly to voice your strong opposition to these bills.
II. Bill Requiring Electronic Review of Construction Permits Set for Vote
On Monday, January 13, the State Senate is scheduled to vote on S-3927/A-4463, which the League opposes. S-3927/A-4463 would establish an electronic permit processing review system requiring electronic submission of applications for construction permits, plans, and specifications as required under the State Uniform Construction Code, and for the scheduling of inspections. All municipal enforcement agencies would be required to use this new system.
The League supports efforts to modernize the process of UCC applications and reviews; however we have some pragmatic and practical concerns with the bill. For one, certain documents required to be reviewed during the construction permitting process are not easily reviewable through electronic means. Municipal enforcement agencies will incur substantial costs to purchase the equipment necessary to implement the electronic review of these applications. And, while the bill allows municipalities to charge a surcharge for the first three years after the bill is adopted to recoup start-up costs, this may not be sufficient.
We encourage you to contact your Senator asking them to vote against this legislation until municipal concerns are properly addressed.
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq, Associate General Counsel, FMarshall@njlm.org, or 609-695-3481 x137.