September 8, 2012
This summer, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed legislation extending local permits and approvals set to expire between January 1, 2009 and July 1, 2013 until July 1, 2016. Originally adopted in 2010 as “Act 46” and referred to as the “Permit Extension Act”, permits and approvals related to real estate development which were set to expire during the period between January 1, 2009 and July 1, 2013 were extended until July 2, 2013 (or later, based on the terms of the original permit). This year, the state legislature extended the date of expiration from July 2, 2013 to July 2, 2016. The original Permit Extension Act was passed in response to the economic downturn and cited numerous reasons for its adoption including the time and expense involved in obtaining approvals and the difficulty for builders and purchasers to obtain financing and initiate development projects. The law applies to most real estate related permits and approvals issued by the state or local municipalities and agencies. However, there are certain exceptions.
In Philadelphia County, permits and approvals include building permits, zoning use and registration permits, and any administrative approval, including an approval by a board or commission, that is a condition precedent to issuance of a building permit or zoning use and registration permit. Water Department approvals for water distribution and sanitary sewer connections are not subject to the Act. On a state level, permits issued pursuant to federal authority where the terms of the permit are dictated by the federal government are not covered by the Act, and certain state permits related to surface water may not be covered by the Act. On both the state and local levels, permits which have been revoked, or permits that are the subject of Consent Decrees are not affected by this Act. Further, the Act does not impede the state or local government’s ability to revoke permits during the extension period for cause.
In all jurisdictions except Philadelphia County, the extension is automatic, provided the permit or approval is covered by the terms of the Act.
In Philadelphia County however, the extension applies only where a permit holder specifically requests the extension in writing from the City. The Department of License and Inspection issued a press release on August 1, 2012 detailing instructions on applying for the extension. The fee, as established in the Permit Extension Act, equals half of the original permit fee (capped at $5,000). For board approvals, the fee is half of the original appeal application fee. However, the extension is not “deemed approved” if the City fails to respond within 30 days.
The Department of License and Inspection’s press release and additional information is available on their website at: www.phila.gov/li. More information can also be found at www.legis.state.pa.us. The City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce offers a comprehensive Developer Services program to support commercial development in Philadelphia. The Development Services Program is an important resource available to developers of any major development project involving either new construction or substantial rehabilitation of existing property within the City of Philadelphia.