Yesterday the General Assembly passed the “Permit Extension Act of 2009.” In essence, the Act suspends the termination of any development approval permit that was current and valid between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2010. “Development approval” is broadly defined, and includes wastewater permits, erosion control permits, subdivision plat approval, air quality permits and special and conditional use permits, among others.
Commentary: The Permit Extension Act is an acknowledgement of what was termed in the Act’s first paragraph “a state of economic emergency in the State of North Carolina and the nation” and the special hardships suffered by the land development industry. Instead of spending money that doesn’t exist in government coffers to revisit every lapsed permit, the General Assembly adopted a common sense measure that simply maintains the status quo until the economy is revived.
From the private perspective, many of the approvals obtained from state and local agencies have sunset provisions tied to initiation of site activity. Loss of approvals would heap additional losses upon a weakened industry that creates substantial jobs and increases the local tax bases. From the governmental perspective, it would take inordinate and unnecessary staff time to re-discuss and re-approve lapsed permits.
The only thing missing from this Act is the inclusion of Development Agreements as a type of approval that is vested. Someone was asleep at the wheel.