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A New Jersey State Senate committee this week discussed a bill which would slow down and possibly even stop development of large warehouses statewide. The bill may also be expanded to curb development of large residential neighborhoods.

The bill, S3664, which is sponsored by Burlington Senator Troy Singleton, would establish new review processes related to applications for development of certain large warehouses, and requires certain real property revaluations and reassessments after completion of the large warehouse development. 

The bill’s requirements would apply to development applications for a "large warehouse," which the bill defines as a large facility or site that: meets guidelines promulgated by the State Planning Commission (commission), and is designed predominantly for receiving and storing goods and materials before they are sold, used, or redistributed. 

Under the bill, a municipality’s planning board upon receiving a development application for a large warehouse, and prior to considering the application, is to complete a special reexamination of the municipality’s master plan and development regulations, and prepare and adopt a special reexamination report (report) for the purpose of incorporating the commission’s guidelines, unless the master plan and development regulations were updated for that purpose within the prior 12 months. If a municipality’s master plan and development regulations were not updated within the prior 12 months, the planning board would consider the number and nature of variances that were granted in the prior 12 months, pertinent to the application for development.

A planning board is required to deliver the report to the municipal governing body within 90 days of the receipt of an application for development of a large warehouse, and upon receipt of a report, the municipal governing body may amend the municipality’s development regulations in accordance with the report, (i.e. change the zoning to no longer permit warehouses in that zoning district) within 90 days of the receipt of the report. The bill further specifies that such amendments are to be applicable to the previously submitted application for development of a large warehouse.

Under the bill, the 45-day period for determining whether an application for development is complete, which is currently listed in the Municipal Land Use Law, is not to commence, for an application for development of a large warehouse that is subject to a report, until the 91st day following the governing body’s receipt of a report.

The bill further provides that if a municipality that has approved a large warehouse development project has not performed a municipal-wide revaluation or municipal-wide reassessment of all real property in the municipality within the 60 months immediately preceding the approval of the large warehouse development project, the municipality is to perform a municipal-wide revaluation or municipal-wide reassessment of real property within the municipality not later the 24th month following issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the large warehouse.

In its current version of the bill, this act shall take effect immediately if it becomes law.

At this week's session of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee, lawmakers called this a "step one, as we can't canalize each other while promoting economic growth."

Senator Singleton, who chairs this committee, stated that "this is not a warehouse bill. This is a regional growth impact bill," and indicated that the proposed bill may be further amended to also impose such regulations on all major Subdivision applications.

Numerous real estate developers, represented by various attorneys, attended the meeting in opposition to the pending bill.

The developers argued that "business across e-commerce websites continues to escalate (i.e. consumers are buying more items online). Therefore we require more local warehouses so we can ship the stuff out quicker. The Municipal Land Use Law has a whole schedule in place with deadlines regulating how fast municipalities need to process all land use applications. This bill, however, pushes all that back."

They also argued that not only will this bill delay their plans 6 months, it will also urge the Township to review if they should change the zoning after the developers have already invested a lot of money into an application, and this could actually kill their development plans.

They further argued that if the bill goes into effect immediately as currently planned, this will retroactively hurt all the applications which they have already been working on for the past while. The senators responded that they will take this into consideration and possibly amend the bill so it goes into effect at a later date.

As the Senate Committee is still reviewing the specifics of the proposed bill, the committee did not yet vote to release the bill from committee, which is necessary before the bill could advance to a floor vote. 

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Sarah Sofer said...

This is cookoo.
This Senators should get a job

Anonymous said...