February 6, 2023

Proposal to make it easier to get building permits, inspects in New Jersey gets committee’s support

The New Jersey Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee advanced a bipartisan bill Monday that aims to allow construction companies and contractors to apply for permits and scheduled inspections online.

The bill had the backing of numerous business associations including the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey Apartment Association, the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association and the New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA).

“Often when the legislature enacts meaningful legislation and the departments implement those legislations through regulations it imposes burdens on the business community,” said Ray Cantor, NJBIA’s vice president for government affairs in testimony to the committee. “Even though those burdens per regulation may be minimal over time, they do add up and the costs and the burdens become significant. We are very thankful that the legislature is taking a different approach and trying to make things more efficient, more cost effective and more timely.”

Sen. Steven Oroho, one of the bill’s sponsors, said the legislation is necessary to “bring the permitting process fully into the digital age.”

“It will bolster the entire process, from submission and review to scheduling, inspection and review, to approvals,” Oroho said. “The addition of an online, centralized digital system will simplify the complicated mechanisms and eliminate much of the frustration and inefficiencies that often delay important projects and cost money.”

The bill passed the Assembly in January and now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

The committee passed another bill sponsored by Oroho that changes the definition of landlord to include the owners of rooming and boardinghouses.

The bill essentially extends a law passed in 1993 that only applied to the Jersey Shore to the entire state. Dubbed the “Animal House” law, the bill made owners of boarding and rooming houses responsible for misconduct by the tenants.

Officials in the Newton, a town in Sussex County, brought the issue to legislators after issues with one boardinghouse. The State Department Community Affairs licenses boardinghouses, and the town could not do anything legally. The bill gives municipalities the authority to adopt ordinances that regulate rooming and boardinghouses in the same manner other rental properties are.

“Communities deserve decency and cooperation from operators of any shared housing complexes,” Oroho said in a statement. “This measure will empower our towns with the proper enforcement tools against bad actors while helping to curb disruptive behavior.”

The bill now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

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