Under New Jersey construction law, each county must establish a construction board of appeals. A construction board of appeals hears the applications of any “person who is aggrieved by any ruling, action, notice, order or decision of a local enforcing agency that enforces either the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code or the New Jersey Uniform Fire Code, including, without limitation, any refusal to grant an application or any failure or refusal to act upon an application, but not including any order requiring the taking of emergency measures….” This is an important tool under New Jersey construction law to challenge wrongful denials by local authorities of building and construction applications.
Most county construction boards of appeals have websites with information about their locations, hours and local procedures. For example, the Passaic County Board of Construction Appeals can be found here. The Essex County Board of Construction Appeals can be found here. The Bergen County Board of Construction Appeals can be found here. The Monmouth County Board of Construction Appeals can be found here. The Morris County Board of Construction Appeals can be found here.
Appeals must be filed and received by the local county construction board of appeals within 15 days of receipt of the written notice of the action, ruling, notice or order which is to be appealed. While the law states 15 days from receipt, we recommend that appeals be received by the construction board of appeals within 15 days from the date on the notice to avoid any later dispute over the date of receipt and the possible rejection of the appeal as untimely.
Appeals must be made in writing and must explain the decision being appealed and why the applicant believes the decision was incorrect. It must also include the name of the appellant and attorney, if any; the location of the property in question; the permit number; and the statue or rule on which the applicant is relying. The dates, times and people involved in the dispute must also be listed. The filing fee must be paid.
A copy must be served on the local authority whose decision is being appealed from, and proof of service must be filed along with the appeal. The local authority then must provide its reasons for the denial of the appellant’s request to the construction board of appeals. The board may affirm, reverse or modify the local decision. It may also affirm, reduce or modify a penalty even if it upholds the decision itself. It may also return the matter to the local authority for further consideration.
The parties are afforded full, in person hearings, with the ability to call and cross-examine witnesses, and to present documentary and other evidence. Appellants are allowed to be represented by attorneys, and on any application of significance it is recommended that they are. Written decisions with a statement of reasons are supposed to be issued withing 10 days, although that deadline can be extended with the consent of the applicant. The board must give a copy of the decision to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. If a decision is not rendered within the required time, the appeal is deemed to be denied, therefore it makes sense to agree to a request for an extension so that the decision is not an automatic denial.
Any party may appeal an adverse decision of the local county board of construction appeals, including a deemed denial, to the Law Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey. Local authorities must immediately comply with the board’s decision unless they obtain a stay pending appeal.
Our construction attorneys represent contractors, subcontractors and owners in all phases of New Jersey construction law. Call us at (973) 890-0004 or fill out the contact form on this page to schedule a consultation with one of our New Jersey construction lawyers. We can help.