The region’s real estate and business communities are again pushing for legislation to create a self-certification program for applications for building permits to local authorities.
A law authored by a state senator. James Gaugran and Assemblyman Steve Stern are aiming to expedite the approval process by requiring municipalities 45 days to approve or reject a building permit application before an applicant can opt for self-certification of plans by licensed architects or engineers. The proposed law also requires municipalities to provide specific reasons why an application is rejected.
The coalition lobbying for the bill consists of the Association for a Better Long Island, the Long Island Association, the Long Island Building Institute, the New York Solar Association, and the Long Island Society of Commercial Industrial Brokers. In addition, several Long Island municipalities also support the creation of self-certification programs. The bipartisan association of Suffolk County Inspectors, as well as the city of Hempstead, wrote letters defending the law.
Self-certification, also known as professional certification, allows qualified licensed architects and engineers to approve multiple steps in the building permit process, such as architectural plans, sewage flow, and landscaping, instead of waiting for municipal reviewers to do it.
The program will reduce the backlog faced by the Long Island developer community, where due to COVID-19, some building departments have months-long waiting lists. The Self-Certification Program has been in existence in New York for 25 years and has simplified the city’s approval process.
This is not the first time a self-certification law has been passed. However, the current bill has been amended to give municipalities a 45-day window to complete building permit reviews before self-certification can take effect.
Kyle Strober, executive director of the Association for a Better Long Island, said self-certification creates jobs and promotes economic activity, as well as saving local municipal resources that can be directed to much more pressing matters.
“This self-certification law will set deadlines for approval or rejection, which is critical in the construction process,” Strober said. “When it takes more than 100 days to simply process a building permit application, it hinders the economic development of our region and costs us all dearly.”
Mitch Pally, CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute, said that if the law becomes law, municipalities will have to adopt their own rules for managing the self-certification process.
“This is just the first step,” Pally said.
Supporters say self-certification programs are being used to make the permitting process more efficient for projects, save municipal resources and applicant time, and increase municipal revenue. As a result, they say, the program stimulates economic development by increasing investment in the municipality, job creation and economic activity.
“Self-certification has proven to be an effective tool to drive growth in New York, so legislation needs to be passed to provide more opportunities for economic development and equity for Long Island,” said Matt Cohen, president and CEO of the Long Island Association. . “This will give the business community more confidence and speed up the timeframe for getting shovels into the ground and completing projects safely and more successfully.”
Supporters of self-certification say the proposed law has every chance of getting the green light.
“We very much hope that this will be passed by both houses before the end of the legislative session in two weeks,” Pally said.