By Joshua Burd
Commercial real estate leaders are awaiting the fate of a bill that would allow building owners in New Jersey to hire third-party, private-sector professionals to obtain faster code inspections.
The legislation, A4850, is awaiting action by Gov. Phil Murphy after winning unanimous approval by the Legislature in early June. If approved, it would pave the way for the state to create a network of licensed agents who could perform expedited inspections if local code officials are unable to do so within three business days of a landlord’s request.
Industry stakeholder groups including NAIOP New Jersey and the New Jersey Builders Association have pushed for such a bill in recent years, believing it would be a key step toward streamlining construction projects and promoting economic development. Anthony Pizzutillo, NAIOP New Jersey’s public affairs consultant, said as much during the chapter’s July 14 Regulatory, Legislative & Legal Update event, calling it one of several “very important pieces of legislation that we’re hoping that the governor acts on.”
Alyana Alfaro, the governor’s press secretary, noted last week that the administration does typically not comment on pending legislation.
NAIOP and NJBA leaders have long said that municipal code officials are overextended, leading to project delays and a lack of predictability for developers. A4850 would offer a solution modeled after the popular Licensed Site Remediation Professionals program, which has allowed third-party consultants to spearhead environmental cleanups, helping to ease the state’s massive caseload of polluted sites and advance key redevelopment projects.
Under the new legislation, a building owner or developer would pay a premium for an expedited code inspection using the private-sector agency, which would be licensed and authorized to perform inspections by the state Department of Community Affairs. A municipal governing body may participate by requiring its enforcing agency to conduct expedited inspections or by allowing an applicant to have a private agency to perform them, although local code inspectors would retain jurisdiction over the project as well as the final say with respect to issuing a certificate of occupancy.