By Jessica Fiur, News Editor
Monroe Township, N.J.—Last week, N.J. governor Chris Christie vetoed controversial legislation that would require additional inspections of high-rise building facades and exteriors in New Jersey. The bills, S-2771/A-3895, sought to transfer jurisdiction over facades from the N.J. Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to individual, local enforcement entities.
The legislation originated in Philadelphia and was passed, prompting officials to try to enact it in New Jersey as well.
“In 1967, New Jersey adopted a comprehensive, state-wide inspection enforcement system,” Jean Maddalon, executive director for the New Jersey Apartment Association (NJAA), tells MHN. “It is an incredible inspection process—everything from electrical to building façade. What they were doing [was taking something] that filled a need in Philadelphia and tried to pass it in New Jersey where that need was already covered by the DCA inspection.”
If the legislation had been passed, it would have brought additional costs to building owners.
“The more inspections you have, the more expensive it becomes to maintain the housing,” Maddalon says. “New Jersey is already one of the most expensive places to own or rent, and if you add regulations, especially unneeded regulations, it ends up costing more to run the apartment building.”
In addition to being costlier, the initiative would not call for standardized inspections across the state, allowing for multiple estimations.
“The DCA would have passed the inspection, but the local municipalities would have been the inspectors,” Maddalon explains. “There are 566 municipalities [in New Jersey], so there would have been 566 different interpretations of what the regulations say.”
The duplicative façade inspection bills were approved in December by the Legislature, which prompted the NJAA to submit a veto request to the governor.
“We got lucky that the governor saw that this was really unnecessary,” Maddalon says. “We would never sacrifice the safety of our residents, but we feel that the current system is working, and it is keeping people safe. And luckily the governor felt that way as well. [The new plan] was really a solution for a problem that didn’t exist.”