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Amendment Clarifies PA’s Permit Extension ACT

Amendments to Pennsylvania’s Permit Extension Act have clarified provisions suspending the expiration dates of certain approvals obtained by developers and property owners. On July 10th Governor Wolf signed into law Act 31 of 2015 which amends Pennsylvania’s Permit Extension Act, 53 P.S. § 11703.1 et seq. The change of most interest to developers/property owners and municipalities addresses the automatic suspension provisions of the Act. Prior to this amendment, the Act provided for an automatic suspension of expiration dates for certain approvals from government agencies, but left undefined how the period of suspension was to be calculated when the extension period terminated. The lack of definition left many parties confused about what would happen to approvals on July 2, 2016.

The confusion should be eliminated by Act 31, which amends the automatic suspension language to make clear that for an approval “… granted or in effect between the beginning of the extension period and July 2, 2013, whether obtained before or after the beginning of the extension period, the running of the period of the approval shall be automatically suspended until July 2, 2016.” Act 31 of 2015, Sec. 2(a) (emphasis added). The new language makes clear that the expiration of an approval granted or in effect in the time period between the beginning of the extension period and July 2, 2013, will be suspended until July 2, 2016.

Because the approval “expiration clock” stopped on the effective date, approvals that had not yet expired and were in effect during the time period defined in Act 31 will have the time remaining between the effective date and the expiration date added to July 2, 2016. The expiration clock will not begin to run again until July 2, 2016 adding the remaining time period to that date. For approvals granted after the effective date, the clock would be suspended from the date of approval. For example, a conditional use has a 6 month expiration period and is approved after the effective date. The “expiration clock” would not begin to run until July 2, 2016, extending the approval an additional 6 months or until January of 2017.

The amended language of the Permit Extension Act may offer an opportunity to extend the expiration of approvals well beyond the life of the Act itself. If you have questions regarding how the Permit Extension Act may apply to your approval, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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