DNJ POLICY WATCH – September 2018

DNJ POLICY WATCH – September 2018

Courtenay Mercer, PP, AICP
Executive Director, Downtown New Jersey

Originally posted Sept. 25, 2018, Up-dated Oct. 3, 2018

Downtown New Jersey acts as an advocate for downtown commercial districts in New Jersey, tracking judicial and legislative issues that can affect the success of the state’s downtowns and then informing and educating members on these issues. Since our last Policy Watch, there has been movement on a few bills impacting downtowns:

  • The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) issued a “special ruling” on September 24, 2018 regarding authorized activities of limited brewery license holders. The ruling expands the breweries’ ability to sell snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, but sets a limit on the number of events the brewery can participate in each year. The ABC says that the ruling will serve as a “temporary pilot” with information garnered from the pilot being used to formulate official rules. Downtowns with current or prospective interest in breweries should keep their eyes on this. DNJ will also let you know when rules are promulgated. Update: ABC suspends new craft brewery rules after lawmaker outcries.
  • The NJ Legislature has sent a draft cannabis legislation to the Governor’s office for review with formal introduction of the bill expected later this year. NJ Advance Media obtained a copy of the draft legislation and described the details in an article published September 18, 2018. Update: Sweeney says a vote on marijuana legislation expected on October 29, 2018.
  • Senate President Steve Sweeney announced the release of the “Path to Progress” report of the NJ Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup that includes recommendations in five categories: 1)Pension & Benefit Reform, 2) Leveraging Assets to Stabilize the Pension System, 3) Education Reform at the Administrative Level, 4) County & Municipal Government Reform and Shared Services, 5) State and Local Government Tax Structure. The report has received much attention due to its call for school consolidation, and a continued emphasis on encouraging shared services among and between municipalities and counties.
  • Governor Murphy signed the “Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant Bond Financing Act” (PL. 2018, C97) into law, which authorizes the issuance of bonds secured by pledge of Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant proceeds, municipal liens, and special assessment; expands the “Redevelopment Area Bond Financing Law;” and extends time to complete certain projects under “Long Term Tax Exemption Law.”
  • Governor Murphy approved PL. 2018, C74 as law, which authorizes certain local government utilities to impose additional connection fees, and also requires certain new credits and reductions for these fees.
  • The New Jersey Transit Villages Act (A2926/S2483) was referred out of the Assembly Economic Development Committee with amendment to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on September 13, 2018. The legislation encourages municipalities to promote intensive mixed-use development within close proximity to mass transit by amending the MLUL (NJAC 40:55D-et al) to allow for the creation of a transit village plan, and prioritizing existing funding to and creating a grant program for projects within designated transit village zones.
  • A1700, which specifies vacant shopping malls and office parks as eligible for designation as areas in need of redevelopment was reported out of the the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee with amendments on September 13, 2018. The Senate companion bill has not seen any movement since it was introduced in February 2018.
  • An Assembly companion bill (A4378) to Senate Bill S521 was introduced on September 13, 2018. The legislation requires the NJ State Council on Arts to establish rules and process by which a municipality can designate an Arts District. It is unknown at this time whether this introduction will lead to action by either house.

Below is all the legislation we have been watching that could impact downtowns. Highlighted text represents adopted laws.

Potentially Impacting Downtown Management

S521 &  A4378: Requires NJ State Council on Arts to establish “Artist District” designation and select certain municipalities or areas within municipalities for such designation. 

The legislation requires the NJ State Council on Arts to establish rules and process by which a municipality can designate an Arts District. The general benefit of enhanced marketing opportunities are cited in the legislation, but specific benefits are not. The bill was introduced in the Senate and referred to the State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee on January 9, 2018. A companion bill was introduced in the Assembly and referred to the Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee on September 13, 2018.

Bill S410 & A2201: Concerns baked goods sold at farm markets.

 The legislation allows producers to sell their freshly-baked products at farm markets in wrapped or covered containers without being weighed. The bill passed the Senate on June 21, 2018. A companion bill was introduced in the Assembly and referred to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on February 1, 2018.

Redevelopment – Financial

PL. 2018, C97: “Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant Bond Financing Act,” authorizing issuance of bonds secured by pledge of Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant proceeds, municipal liens, and special assessment; expands “Redevelopment Area Bond Financing Law;” extends time to complete certain projects under “Long Term Tax Exemption Law.”

The legislation authorizes municipalities to raise cash to assist private development by issuing bonds backed by Economic Development Authority tax incentives. The bill passed both houses  and was approved by the Governor as PL. 2018, C97.

Related Articles:
NJ Modernizes Its Redevelopment Bond Financing Laws – New Jersey Law Journal
Push to give towns more power to entice developers with special bonds – NJ Spotlight
EDITORIAL: No debt, no problem? Maybe – My Central Jersey

A1311: & S2031: “Historic Property Reinvestment Act”; provides credits against certain taxes for certain costs of rehabilitating historic properties.

The legislation authorizes an income tax credit for a portion of the rehabilitation costs of qualified historic owner-occupied residential and commercial properties. DNJ made statements in support of a historic preservation tax credit in its January 5, 2018 Memo to the Murphy Transition Team. A prior version of this bill was passed out of the Legislature with bipartisan support but vetoed by then Governor Christie. This bill was introduced in the Assembly and referred to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on January 9, 2018. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate and referred to the State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee on February 28, 2018.

A2926 & S2483: “New Jersey Transit Villages Act.”

The legislation encourages municipalities to promote intensive mixed-use development within close proximity to mass transit by amending the MLUL (NJAC 40:55D-et al) to allow for the creation of a transit village plan, and prioritizing existing funding to and creating a grant program for projects within designated transit village zones. The bill was introduced in the Assembly and referred to the Commerce and Economic Development Committee on February 1, 2018; and was recently referred out of that committee with amendment to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on September 13, 2018. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Economic Growth Committee on April 16, 2018.

A2441: Establishes Main Street Economic Growth Program to encourage business development in small, highly developed municipalities.

The legislation authorizes corporate business tax and gross income tax credits, as well as loans and technical assistance to businesses within a “Main Street area” as designated by a municipality with a population under 11,000 and is 70% developed. The bill was reported and referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on March 5, 2018.

A1183 & S2256: Establishes Main Street Assistance Program to encourage business development in small municipalities.

 The legislation authorizes corporate business tax and gross income tax credits, as well as loans and technical assistance to businesses in Main Street areas within small municipalities, which are defined as having a population under 20,000 and is over 75 percent developed. The bill was introduced in the Assembly and referred to the Commerce and Economic Development Committee on January 9, 2018. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Economic Growth Committee on March 8, 2018.

A2561 & S2234: Allows corporation business tax credits as incentives for redevelopment of distressed shopping centers.

The legislation establishes a program to certify taxpayers that make retail investments to redevelop partially or completely vacant shopping centers in New Jersey as eligible to receive a corporation business tax credit of up to $15,000, but not exceeding the amount of 50 percent of corporation business tax owed by the taxpayer. The bill was introduced in the Assembly and referred to the Commerce and Economic Development Committee on February 1, 2018. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Economic Growth Committee on March 8, 2018.

S867 & A3691: Imposes prevailing wage for public work on properties receiving tax abatements or exemptions.

The legislation imposes a prevailing wage on any project receiving tax incentives. DNJ made statements on a prior version of this bill in a December 8, 2017 article, and its January 5, 2018 Memo to the Murphy Transition Team. The bill was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Labor Committee on January 9, 2018. A companion bill was introduced on March 13, 2018 and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee.

S59 & A326/1475: Requires municipalities to share certain payments received in lieu of property taxes with school districts; informs counties and school districts of application for property tax exemption.

The legislation requires that a municipality remit a portion of its annual service charge revenue to its school district(s) in an amount calculated by multiplying the number of schoolchildren in the approved project by the average budgetary cost per pupil in the district. DNJ made statements on a prior version of this bill in a December 8, 2017 article, and its January 5, 2018 Memo to the Murphy Transition Team. The bill was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Community and Urban Affairs Committee on January 9, 2018. A companion bill was reported out of the Assembly State and Local Government Committee, and a floor amendment passed on May 26, 2018.

A345 & S1701: Requires cost-benefit analyses and local government financial impact findings for approval of long term property tax exemption.

The legislation requires both the applicant for a long-term property tax exemption and the municipality to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the project’s impact on the finances on affected governments. The bill was introduced in the Assembly and referred to the State and Local Government Committee on January 9, 2018. A companion bill was reported from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on June 11, 2018.

A3536 & S1837:Establishes Emerging Technology Urban Grant Program in EDA; appropriates $20 million.

This legislation establishes the Emerging Technology Urban Grant Program to award grants to qualifying emerging technology businesses to encourage the businesses to locate in one of three urban technology zones to acquire cloud computing services that will facilitate the businesses to grow and create full-time employment. The bill was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Economic Growth Committee on February 8, 2018. A companion bill was introduced in the Assembly and referred to the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee on March 5, 2018.

Redevelopment – General

 PL. 2018, C74: Authorizes certain local government utilities to impose additional connection fees; requires certain new credits and reductions for these fees.

The legislation allows new connection fees to be imposed for an addition, alteration, or change in use to certain connected properties. The legislation also requires credits if the reconnection does not require any new physical connection, does not increase the nature or size of the service or the number of services units, or does not expand the use of the utility system. Finally, the legislation provides fee reductions to all affordable housing, including affordable housing units in inclusionary projects. The bill passed both houses  and was approved by the Governor as PL. 2018, C74.

A1700 & S1583: Specifies vacant shopping malls and office parks as eligible for designation as areas in need of redevelopment. 

The legislation expands the conditions under which an area in need of redevelopment can be delineated to include “[a]eas with buildings used, or previously used, as a shopping mall, shopping plaza, or professional office park, which buildings have been vacant or partially vacant with less than 50% occupancy, for a period of at least one year.” The bill was reported out of the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee with amendments on September 13, 2018. A companion bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on February 5th, 2018.

A135 & S1261: Establishes fire safety standards and protocols for certain light frame residential construction; requires placards identifying primary structural systems of buildings.

The legislation establishes a number of fire safety standards for light frame construction of new multiple dwellings, hotels, and 18 rooming and boarding houses with more than two dwelling or sleeping units. The bill was introduced in the Assembly and referred to the Housing and Community Development Committee on January 9, 2018. A companion bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on January 25, 2018.

A3075 & S597: Encourages development of public electric vehicle charging infrastructure in redevelopment projects.

The legislation adds definitions of electric vehicle charging stations (EVCS), authorizes EVCS to be included in redevelopment plans and projects, and allows municipalities to use redevelopment funding streams to build public EVCS. The bill was referred out of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee with amendments on September 13, 2018. A companion bill was introduced and referred to Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee on February 8, 2018.

Liquor Licenses

 A1318 & S2219: Permits municipalities to issue retail liquor licenses for use in certain historic taverns.

The legislation authorizes municipalities to issue permits to sell alcoholic beverages for on-premise consumption in abandoned historic taverns. The bill passed in the Assembly on May 24, 2018. A companion bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on March 8, 2018.

A3921 & S2580: Permits sale of certain alcoholic beverages and related products at seasonal farm markets.

The legislation authorizes the Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control to issue a daily or annual permit to the holder of a limited brewery license, restricted brewery license, craft distillery license, plenary winery license, farm winery license, or cidery and meadery license to sell the licensee’s products at a seasonal farm market for consumption off the premises. The bill passed in the Assembly on May 24, 2018. A companion bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee on May 14, 2018.

Bill A1029 & S2168: Allows municipality to issue permits to sell alcoholic beverages in residential redevelopment areas.

This legislation allows for the issuance of permits to sell alcoholic beverages within the redevelopment district of certain municipalities that have adopted a Smart Growth Redevelopment Plan. The bill passed the Assembly on June 7, 2018. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate and referred to Law and Public Safety Committee on March 5, 2018.

Related Article:
Bill to allow more liquor permits in Hackensack passes the Assembly – NorthJersey.com

A2011 & S1199 : Permits municipalities to hold certain inactive liquor licenses reserved for smart growth developments for an additional five years.

The legislation allows a municipality that acquired an inactive plenary retail consumption license that remains inactive on the bill’s effective date to maintain that license in an inactive status for up to five additional years. The bill was reported out of the Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee with Amendments on February 8th. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate and referred to Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on January 25, 2018.

 A1505: Creates new liquor licenses for certain restaurants and permits the issuance of additional liquor licenses; provides tax credit under corporate business tax and gross income tax for fair market value of certain alcoholic beverage licenses.

The legislation allows municipalities to issue restricted restaurant, and beer and wine licenses for use in connection with restaurants that occupy a minimum square footage of 1,500 and a maximum square footage of 6,000 and maintain a full-service kitchen with a minimum square footage of 500. The bill was introduced in the Assembly and referred to the Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee on January 9, 2018. A Senate companion bill has not been introduced.

S1648 & A1478: Permits theaters with 100 seats or more to apply for liquor license.

This legislation reduces from 1,000 to 100 the number of seats required for a theater to be eligible to apply for a special license to serve alcoholic beverages on the premises. The bill was introduced in the Assembly and referred to the Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee on January 9, 2018. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Law and Public Safety Committee on February 8, 2018.

A2008: Provides for transfer and sale of inactive liquor licenses for use in qualifying smart growth municipalities.

The legislation repeals sections P.L.2007, c.351 (C.33:1-24.1 and 33:1-24.2) which permits special permits for the service of alcoholic beverages in smart growth development projects; and allows for the purchase of inactive plenary retail consumption licenses private interests. The bill was introduced in the Assembly and referred to the Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee on January 9, 2018. A Senate companion bill has not been introduced.

Urban Enterprise Zone

PL. 2018, C19: Reinstates and extends duration of certain UEZs; requires DCA to study UEZ program and report recommendations to the Legislature.

The legislation reinstates expired UEZs until December 31, 2023; and extends the term of those UEZs that expire prior to that date. It also requires the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to study the UEZ program and to submit to the Legislature a report and recommendations. The bill passed both houses and was approved by the Governor as PL. 2018, C19.

Related Article:
Phil Murphy agrees to reduced sales tax in these 5 N.J. cities – NJ.com 

A2982 & S2367: Allows certain municipalities to establish lower property tax rate on improvements than land and eliminates urban enterprise zone program.

The legislation eliminates the Urban Enterprise Zones (UEZ), but allows former UEZs to employ a land-based property tax system, which is defined in the legislation as a property tax system under which taxable improvements are taxed at a lower rate than taxable land. Other municipalities may apply to the Division of Taxation to adopt a similar measure. The bill was introduced in the Assembly and referred to the Commerce and Economic Development Committee on February 8, 2018. A companion bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on April 5, 2018.