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Key Issues Facing New Jersey Provide a Focus For Naiop Nj’s Legislative and Regulatory Efforts

Chapter Making the Garden State More Competitive and a Better Place to Live and Work

 
 
mike mcguinness 2010
mike mcguinness 2010
PRLog - Jul. 30, 2012 - PARAMUS, N.J. -- Legislative, regulatory, legal and other issues abound in New Jersey, as elsewhere, and all have their champions and their opponents. NAIOP New Jersey, the commercial real estate development association, is unique in the fact that its positions on such issues not only have a positive impact on the association and its members, but also on the economic health and well-being of the Garden State in general.

“While our primary role is as an advocate for commercial real estate, we certainly support any initiatives that result in job creation and expansions,” said Michael G. McGuinness, CEO of NAIOP New Jersey. “Issues related to logistics and port commerce, such as the raising of the Bayonne Bridge to accept post-Panamax vessels, are not only critical to commercial real estate, but they have a substantial benefit to the overall economy of our state and the region.”

“We continue to serve as a resource for policymakers in government,” McGuinness said. “That includes everything from environmental policy, to legal issues, tax structure, infrastructure, energy, land use and even employment and training programs. We help educate policymakers as to the impact of policy changes on the commercial real estate industry—and New Jersey’s well-being.”

NAIOP New Jersey “is not only an advocate, but also an agenda-setter for the legislature, the Governor’s office and the regulatory agencies,” said the chapter’s government affairs consultant, Anthony Pizzutillo of Smith Pizzutillo. “The goal is to improve the business climate in New Jersey with innovative and creative economic development initiatives to attract private sector employment, and NAIOP New Jersey’s members are all about creating economic development opportunities.”

NAIOP New Jersey’s efforts have manifested themselves in a number of ways, not the least of which is the project to raise the Bayonne Bridge to admit the larger vessels permitted by the expansion of the Panama Canal and retain the Port of New York/New Jersey’s role as the pre-eminent East Coast port.

“There is a natural alignment between commercial real estate property owners and high-volume infrastructure development,” said Pizzutillo. “If it wasn’t for NAIOP New Jersey’s vigilance and advocacy, along with other stakeholders, to raise the awareness of the issues surrounding the Bayonne Bridge, it may not have been dealt with as quickly.”

Among other key issues advocated by NAIOP New Jersey:

• Extension of the Permit Extension Act to the end of 2014. “There was an immediate need, given the economic downturn, to find a means of keeping permits and approvals alive longer, allowing developers to take advantage of an economic upturn,” said McGuinness. “The extension provides the opportunity for these projects to be completed—creating jobs and generating tax revenues. These are property tax revenues that benefit our educational systems and keep local governments running.” Permit extension legislation was recently passed by the legislature and is currently on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature.

• Signing of the COAH Nonresidential Development Fee Moratorium. “This is an example of an imposition of taxation that directly affects our ability to compete on a level playing field with surrounding states,” said Pizzutillo. “The moratorium of the 2.5 percent tax on commercial property, suspended for two years, has allowed a number of properties and their tenants to realize savings in their developments. For example, the relocation of Macy’s Parade Studio headquarters from Hoboken to larger quarters provided by Russo Development in Moonachie saved more than $300,000 because of the moratorium.”

• Tax Credit boosts. Chief among them is legislation that has recently passed both houses of the legislature that would increase the amount of tax credits authorized under the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program by $250 million and permit funds to be allocated to the Grow New Jersey Assistance program. “This program has been very successful in making sure that New Jersey competes nationally in terms of private sector job creation. It also protects New Jersey’s interests with an extremely rigorous net benefits test,” said Pizzutillo.

• Regulatory reform. “We have been instrumental in helping the Department of Community Affairs facilitate rule proposals to streamline the local permitting and building inspection process,” said McGuinness. “That includes the Plan Release with Conditions proposal involving minor work-tenant fit ups; building permit fees charged for large, open-volume buildings adjusted for the new ceiling heights of modern, state-of-the-art distribution centers; and the distance between exits for those modern warehouse/distribution facilities, based on studies completed with fire safety officials from across the country.”

• Energy. “We have consistently promoted pilot projects and are working with our members and the Board of Public Utilities to focus on different ways to better harness energy efficiency in existing buildings,” said McGuinness. “While much of the focus has been on solar—and that’s a good thing—there is great potential for enhancing building energy efficiency. Many of BPU’s programs provide for funding, and improved energy efficiency enables facilities to be remarketed as ‘green,’ a major plus in filling vacancies.” And, in terms of solar and the market for Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs), “our concern is that the solar energy industry rebounds,” said Pizzutillo. “Governor Christie just signed a bill, passed with NAIOP New Jersey’s support, that will stabilize SRECs at a reasonable value for the benefit of the solar industry and for NAIOP New Jersey members who are using or planning to use solar in their buildings.”

• State Strategic Plan. “We met with Dan Kennedy of the Office for Planning Advocacy earlier this year, and the items discussed ranged from incentivizing communities to welcome targeted industries for significant development and redevelopment, to how flexible the system can be as new growth industries emerge, to how existing rules tied to the old planning maps can be realigned to conform to the new state plan,” said McGuinness. “We continue to work very closely with the New Jersey DEP and the Office for Planning Advocacy to ensure that the final State Strategic Plan is balanced, that the process is transparent and integrated with other state rules and programs, and that state agencies will no longer be pitted against one another. We are extremely pleased that the Christie Administration has recognized the logistics product distribution industry as a core New Jersey industry.”

“NAIOP New Jersey is involved in everything that is germane to commercial real estate, from permit extension, to water quality planning, to Grow New Jersey, redevelopment law reform, long-term bond financing, port support, the State Strategic Plan, and even liquor law reform,” said Pizzutillo. “All of these issues not only benefit our members, but also the State of New Jersey in the larger economic sense.”

“It is telling that virtually every one of our recommendations were included in Governor Christie’s Transition Team Reports, many of which were enacted via the Governor’s first executive orders and many are reflected in the new ‘State Strategic Plan,’” said McGuinness. “Our work is not done. We will continue to strive to make New Jersey more competitive and a better place to live, work, grow and attract business.”

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