Legislature Bills S-281, S-3551

SENATE COMMUNITY AND URBAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

Bill S281

Session 2022 – 2023



SENATE, No. 281

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

220th LEGISLATURE

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2022 SESSION

Sponsored by:

Senator  LINDA R. GREENSTEIN

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

SYNOPSIS

     “New Townhouse Fire Safety Act”; requires automatic fire sprinkler systems in new townhomes.

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

An Act establishing the “New Townhouse Fire Safety Act,” and supplementing P.L.1975, c.217 (C.52:27D-119 et seq.)

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

     1.    This act shall be known and may be cited as the “New Townhouse Fire Safety Act.”

     2.    As used in this act:

     “Automatic fire sprinkler system” means an integrated system, including a suitable water supply, for the purpose of fire protection, consisting of piping designed in accordance with fire protection engineering standards, a portion of which is above the ground in a network of specially sized or hydraulically designed piping to which automatic fire sprinklers are connected in a systematic pattern. 

     “New townhouse” means a dwelling not previously occupied, for which a construction permit has been issued on or after the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), which is intended for residential use by not more than two households, and constructed in a group of two or more attached units.

     3.    a.  On or before the first day of the seventh month next following enactment of P.L.    , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the Commissioner of Community Affairs shall modify the building subcode of the State Uniform Construction Code to require the installation of fire suppression systems in all new townhouses.  The modification shall require all fire suppression systems to be in compliance with subchapter 10 of chapter 10 of Title 7 of the New Jersey Administrative Code regarding Physical Connections and Cross Connection Control by Containment, or any successor regulations, and shall require the installation of separate shut-off valves from the domestic water supply and the fire sprinkler water supply. 

     b.    A construction permit application for a new townhouse subject to the provisions of P.L.    , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), shall not be declared complete without provisions for the installation of an automatic fire sprinkler system in accordance with the requirements of P.L.    , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     4.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the seventh month next following enactment, provided that the Commissioner of Community Affairs shall take the anticipatory action necessary to effectuate the provisions of this act. 

STATEMENT

     This bill, entitled the “New Townhouse Fire Safety Act,” would require the installation of an automatic fire sprinkler system in new townhouses during construction. 

     The bill requires that a construction permit application for a new townhouse would not be declared complete without provisions for the installation of an automatic fire sprinkler system in accordance with the requirements of the bill.  The bill defines “new townhouse” as a dwelling not previously occupied, for which a construction permit has been issued after the effective date of the bill, and which is intended for residential use by not more than two households, and constructed in a group of two or more attached units.

     The bill also directs the Commissioner of Community Affairs to modify the building subcode of the State Uniform Construction Code to require the installation of fire suppression systems in all new townhouses.  This modification would require the installation of separate shut-off valves from the domestic water supply and the fire sprinkler water supply.

     The requirements of this bill would apply to newly constructed townhouses as of the first day of the seventh month after enactment.  Accordingly, development plans and building permits approved prior to the bill’s effective date would not be subject to the provisions of the bill.

Bill S3551

Session 2022 – 2023



SENATE, No. 3551

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

220th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 2, 2023

Sponsored by:

Senator  JOSEPH A. LAGANA

District 38 (Bergen and Passaic)

Senator  ANTHONY M. BUCCO

District 25 (Morris and Somerset)

Co-Sponsored by:

Senator Singleton

SYNOPSIS

     Requires “Electronic Permit Processing Review System” in DCA to enable applicant to submit electronic signature and certain other submission materials for permit application review.

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

An Act concerning electronic signatures on construction permits and other submissions and amending P.L.2021, c.70.

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

     1.    Section 1 of P.L.2021, c.70 (C.52:27D-124.4) is amended to read as follows:

     1.  a.  The Commissioner of Community Affairs shall establish, develop, implement, and administer the “Electronic Permit Processing Review System.”  This electronic system shall be an Internet-based system allowing for the electronic submission of applications for construction permits, plans, and specifications pursuant to the “State Uniform Construction Code Act,” P.L.1975, c.217 (C.52:27D-119 et seq.), for the electronic review and approval of applications, plans, and specifications, for the scheduling of inspections, and for the exchange of information between the applicant, the applicant’s professionals, and the department or enforcing agency during the review process.  The electronic system shall offer a permit applicant:

     (1)   the ability to submit the materials necessary for application review;

     (2)   the ability to submit requests for on-site inspection of a project; [and]

     (3)   continuous, 24-hour accessibility for the submission of both scheduling requests[,] and the materials necessary for the permit application review; and

     (4)   the ability to submit electronic signatures for all materials necessary for the permit application review, including all construction permits, plans and specifications, and for the scheduling of inspections.

     b.  (1)  Following the effective date of P.L.2021, c.70 (C.52:27D-124.4 et al.), the commissioner may make the electronic system accessible, and facilitate its use, through the acceptance of application materials and scheduling submissions, by:

     (a)   the department, with regard to applications for which the department approves plans and specifications pursuant to the “State Uniform Construction Code Act”;

     (b)   local enforcing agencies; and

     (c)   private agencies providing plan review and inspection services.

     (2)  (a)  Within one year following the effective date of P.L.2021, c.70 (C.52:27D-124.4 et al.), the commissioner shall fully implement the electronic system, and provide for its use, through the acceptance of application materials and scheduling submissions, by the department, with regard to applications for which the department approves plans and specifications pursuant to the “State Uniform Construction Code Act.”[.]

     (b)   Local enforcing agencies may elect to utilize the electronic system implemented by the department.  In the alternative, a local enforcing agency may utilize a different electronic system, which system shall provide the same level of functionality as the system implemented by the department as enumerated in subsection a. of this section. 

     c.     The commissioner shall provide training opportunities on the use of the electronic system for employees of local enforcing agencies and private agencies which provide plan review and inspection services. 

     d.    The commissioner shall, in accordance with the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), adopt rules and regulations to govern the form and format of applications for construction permits, plans, and specifications and other information exchanged through the electronic system.  Notwithstanding the requirement, pursuant to subsection b. of this section, to accept electronically submitted materials within one year following the effective date of P.L.2021, c.70 (C.52:27D-124.4 et al.), the commissioner shall have the discretion to establish different submission requirements, including non-electronic submissions as necessary, for large, complicated, or otherwise unusual construction projects, so long as the system is designed to accept approximately 80 percent of construction permit application submissions electronically. 

     e.     The department may waive a contrary form and format requirement imposed by statute or ordinance or by the rules of another department or agency for the submission of information in physical form to the extent the waiver is necessary to facilitate the submission of the information electronically.  The department [may] shall accept an electronic reproduction of a signature, stamp, seal, certification, or notarization as the equivalent of the original or [may] shall accept the substitution of identifying information for the signature, stamp, seal, certification, or notarization.  The department shall not waive any other requirement.

     f.     The commissioner may adopt, amend, and repeal rules and regulations providing for the charging of and setting the amount of construction permit surcharge fees to be collected by an enforcing agency or private agency.  Fees shall be remitted to the department to defray the cost of developing and administering the electronic system by local enforcing agencies that have elected to utilize the electronic system implemented by the department.

     g.    A person exchanging information through the electronic system in a form and format acceptable to the department is not subject to any licensing sanction, civil penalty, fine, permit disapproval, or revocation or other sanction for failure to comply with a form or format requirement imposed by statute, ordinance, or rule for submission of the information in physical form, including but not limited to any requirement that the information be in a particular form or of a particular size, be submitted with multiple copies, be physically attached to another document, be an original document or be signed, stamped, sealed, certified, or notarized.

     h.    As used in this section, “form and format” means the arrangement, organization, configuration, structure, or style of, or method of delivery for, providing required information or providing the substantive equivalent of required information.  “Form and format” does not mean altering the substance of information or the addition or omission of information.

(cf: P.L.2021, c.70, s.1)

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.

STATEMENT

     Current law requires the Commissioner of Community Affairs to establish the “Electronic Permit Processing Review System,” an Internet-based system allowing for the electronic submission of applications for construction permits, plans, and specifications pursuant to the “State Uniform Construction Code Act,” N.J.S.A.52:27D-119 et seq., for the electronic review and approval of applications, plans, and specifications, for the scheduling of inspections, and for the exchange of information between the applicant, the applicant’s professionals, and the Department of Community Affairs or enforcing agency during the review process.  The electronic system offers a permit applicant:

·        the ability to submit the materials necessary for application review;

·        the ability to submit requests for on-site inspection of a project; and 

·        continuous, 24-hour accessibility for these submissions.

     This bill amends current law to specify that the electronic permit system is also required to offer an applicant the ability to submit electronic signatures for all materials necessary for the permit application review, including all construction permits, plans and specifications, and for the scheduling of inspections.  The bill also requires the department to accept an electronic reproduction of stamps, seals, certifications, and notarizations.

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