PA Department of L&I Responds to Permit Extension Act

August 2010Newsletters In the Zone

On July 6, 2010, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell signed into law Senate Bill 1042 , which extended various land development and building permits. The law took effect immediately.

Article XVI-I of the bill contains a requirement that the validity of a wide variety of permits, including UCC building permits, which are issued or in effect during the period December 31, 2008, through July 2, 2013, shall be extended during this period.

34 PA Code §403.43 (g) and §403.63 (g) require permitted work to begin within 180 days of the issuance of the building permit and do not allow the work, once begun, to be abandoned for a period of more than 180 days. The regulation also provides that work must be completed within five years of issuance of a building permit.

In a communication from the PA Department of Labor and Industry, the Department confirms that permit extension law automatically suspends these requirements during the period December 31, 2008, through July 2, 2013.

Additionally, the Department offered two points of clarification on Senate Bill 1042, which contains a requirement that the validity of UCC building permits, which are issued or in effect during the period December 31, 2008, through July 2, 2013, shall be extended during this period.

It is the Department's position that if someone has a residential building permit issued under the 2006 code and that permit was in effect on January 1, 2009, but has since expired, this permit is subject to the automatic extension and is therefore valid until 2013. Why? Because the automatic suspension language in section 1603-I (A) refers to an approval by a government agency "granted for or in effect during the extension period," the implication would seem to be that if the permit was in effect on January 1, 2009, then it would be subject to the extension, regardless of when it expired.

The section on permit extensions speaks to "government approvals." Under the UCC, local permit approvals are technically issued by Building Code Officials. These code officials might be employees of the municipality or they might be persons who work for certified third-party agencies that have been retained (i.e., contracted with) by the municipality. Nonetheless, the permits they issue are municipal (i.e., government) approvals, and thus the SB 1042 suspension requirement applies to all UCC permits.

On August 6, the PA Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Community and Economic Development issued guidance on the permits and approvals covered by the law.

For more information, please contact Robert W. Gundlach, Jr. at 215.918.3636 or [email protected].