2. The Legislature finds and declares that:
a. There exists a state of national recession, which has drastically affected various segments of the New Jersey economy, but none as severely as the State's banking, real estate and construction sectors.
b. The real estate finance sector of the economy is in severe decline due to the sub-prime mortgage problem and the resultant widening mortgage finance crisis. The extreme tightening of lending standards for home buyers and other real estate borrowers has reduced access to the capital markets.
c. As a result of the crisis in the real estate finance sector of the economy, real estate developers and redevelopers, including homebuilders, and commercial, office, and industrial developers, have experienced an industry-wide decline, including reduced demand, cancelled orders, declining sales and rentals, price reductions, increased inventory, fewer buyers who qualify to purchase homes, layoffs, and scaled back growth plans.
d. The process of obtaining planning board and zoning board of adjustment approvals for subdivisions, site plans, and variances can be difficult, time consuming and expensive, both for private applicants and government bodies.
e. The process of obtaining the myriad other government approvals, required pursuant to legislative enactments and their implementing rules and regulations, such as wetlands permits, treatment works approvals, on-site wastewater disposal permits, stream encroachment permits, flood hazard area permits, highway access permits, and numerous waivers and variances, also can be difficult and expensive; further, changes in the law can render these approvals, if expired or lapsed, impossible to renew or re-obtain.
f. County and municipal governments obtain determinations of master plan consistency, conformance, or endorsement with State or regional plans, from State and regional government entities which may expire or lapse without implementation due to the state of the economy.
g. The current national recession has severely weakened the building industry, and many landowners and developers are seeing their life's work destroyed by the lack of credit and dearth of buyers and tenants, due to the crisis in real estate financing and the building industry, uncertainty over the state of the economy, and increasing levels of unemployment in the construction industry.
h. The construction industry and related trades are sustaining severe economic losses, and the lapsing of government development approvals would, if not addressed, exacerbate those losses.
i. Financial institutions that lent money to property owners, builders, and developers are experiencing erosion of collateral and depreciation of their assets as permits and approvals expire, and the extension of these permits and approvals is necessary to maintain the value of the collateral and the solvency of financial institutions throughout the State.
j. Due to the current inability of builders and their purchasers to obtain financing, under existing economic conditions, more and more once-approved permits are expiring or lapsing and, as these approvals lapse, lenders must re-appraise and thereafter substantially lower real estate valuations established in conjunction with approved projects, thereby requiring the reclassification of numerous loans which, in turn, affects the stability of the banking system and reduces the funds available for future lending, thus creating more severe restrictions on credit and leading to a vicious cycle of default.
k. As a result of the continued downturn of the economy, and the continued expiration of approvals which were granted by State and local governments, it is possible that thousands of government actions will be undone by the passage of time.
l. Obtaining an extension of an approval pursuant to existing statutory or regulatory provisions can be both costly in terms of time and financial resources, and insufficient to cope with the extent of the present financial situation; moreover, the costs imposed fall on the public as well as the private sector.
m. It is the purpose of this act to prevent the wholesale abandonment of approved projects and activities due to the present unfavorable economic conditions, by tolling the term of these approvals for a period of time, thereby preventing a waste of public and private resources.
L.2008, c.78, s.2.
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