Revamped legislation to extend and expand approvals for real estate projects in New Jersey is getting the thumbs-up from some local developers.
S-483, which the Senate passed for the second time Thursday, would expand general development plan approvals — which allow zoning and other conditions to remain unchanged for up to 20 years from when a developer receives final approval of a project’s first phase — to any project of at least 150,000 square feet of commercial space or at least 100 residential units. Currently, such approvals are limited to projects of 100 acres or more in size.
The so-called Vertical GDP bill had passed both legislative houses in January, but was conditionally vetoed in March by the governor, who requested the legislation be amended to allow mixed-use projects to be authorized for general development plan approval, and also to permit such approval for any municipality — rather than only those located in a smart-growth area designated for a greater density of development.
The changes, which were incorporated into the legislation last month, “make the bill more accessible and user friendly,” said Carl Goldberg, a partner at Roseland Property Group, a real estate developer in the Short Hills section of Millburn.
Expanding the legislation to include mixed-use projects is appropriate, he said, since most municipalities are encouraging developers to build first-floor retail in their buildings. The bill would also now include towns like Morristown — where Roseland has developed a number of projects — that have a lot of redevelopment taking place, but aren’t necessarily considered smart-growth areas, he said.
“It’s another tool that is going to encourage developers to do more work in New Jersey,” he said. “It brings certainty to the process, and to encourage private sector investment, you need certainty.”
The state Assembly — which has four voting sessions this month — is expected to pass the legislation, according to the New Jersey Legislature’s Office of Public Information.