On July 6, 2010, Governor Rendell signed into law the Permit Extension Act as part of the Pennsylvania overall budget. The Permit Extension Act (“Act”) provides relief to developers and property owners whose projects have been delayed due to the current challenging economic climate by extending the expiration date of certain state and local permits and approvals.
The Act covers state and local approvals for development projects in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including building and construction permits, historic commission approvals, planned communities and condominium approvals, permits issued under the Clean Streams Law, the Sewage Facilities Act, the Storm Water Management Act, and the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act, local approvals under the Municipal Planning Code, Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Plans approved by county conservation districts, and other similar permits and approvals as identified in the Act. The Extension Period is from December 31, 2008 to January 1, 2013.
The expiration date of covered approvals, whether obtained before or after the beginning of the Extension Period, is suspended for the entire duration of the Extension Period, i.e., the expiration date becomes January 1, 2013. In Philadelphia, suspensions for covered approvals are valid only 20 days after the approval holder first provides notice to the relevant City agency of its intent to exercise the suspension rights under the Act, and is conditioned on payment of a fee equal to 50% of the original application fee (not to exceed $5,000).
The Act does not apply to certain approvals, such as those whose expiration is specified by federal law, administrative consent orders or similar enforcement actions, “one-call” determinations or responses, revocations or modifications of permits for cause, and approvals, designations or benefits under the Keystone Opportunity Zone Acts. In addition, it does not apply to approvals issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation except for those relating to local road and driveway access to highways, or to certain Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection approvals related to high quality and exceptional value surface waters and wetlands.
Approval holders and recipients may request written verification from the issuing agency of the existence of a valid approval, and the extended expiration date of such approval under the Act. Agencies that receive such requests must respond within thirty days or the approval will be deemed to be valid and to expire on the date set forth in the verification request.
The Act requires all government agencies affected by the Act to publish public notice of the applicability of the Extension Period to approvals granted by that agency within 30 days of the Act. Government agencies are granted the authority to charge a fee for extension of the approval of 25% of the original application fee, up to a maximum of $5,000.00.
Subsequent changes to laws, regulations, or policies during the Extension Period cannot prohibit or limit an existing permit during the Extension Period. In addition, zoning changes under the Municipal Planning Code will not affect activities authorized by an approval for the duration of the Extension Period, and conveyances of riparian rights in navigable waters will not terminate or expire during the Extension Period.
Finally, during the Extension Period, government agencies retain their authority to suspend or revoke any approval for non-compliance with permit or approval conditions, enforce conditions of approvals granted prior to the Extension Period, and enforce only those conditions in an approval under the municipal planning code that are required to be performed prior to final plan approval.
The prime sponsors are State Senator Dominic Pileggi and State Representative Michael O’Brien. Klehr Harrison would like to thank them and Representative O’Brien’s Chief of Staff, Mary Isaacson, with whom we worked closely on behalf of our real estate development clients on this extension act.