TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would permit towns to exempt senior homeowners from municipal building permit fees was unanimously approved by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee today.
“Senior homeowners on fixed incomes are among the hardest hit by New Jersey’s high cost of living,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “Wherever we can, we need to give our hardest-hit homeowners a little relief. By giving municipalities the option to exempt seniors from home-improvement building permit fees, we are giving them an added tool to encourage older New Jerseyans to stay in their communities, and continue to enrich the neighborhoods they helped build in the Garden State.”
The bill, S-615, would permit municipalities to provide, by ordinance, that senior citizen homeowners age 62 or older would be exempt from construction permit fees charged by the municipality. Specifically, the bill would allow municipalities to exempt seniors for permit fees related to construction, reconstruction, alteration or improvement regarding a home that is owned and occupied as a primary residence. The bill would offset the cost of the exemption through the fees paid by other, non-exempt applicants.
“Unfortunately, many of the State’s long-time residents are leaving New Jersey, unable or unwilling to meet the high cost of living here,” said Senator Vitale. “We need to do more to make the State affordable, and encourage these homeowners to stay. Exempting seniors from building permit fees is a small step that may go a long way to help seniors stay in the homes they’ve built, live near the families they’ve raised, and continue to be a part of the communities they’ve contributed so much to over the years.”
Under current law, municipalities have the discretion to grant permit fee exemptions for certain home improvements needed to make facilities more accessible to persons with physical disabilities.
“In many cases, municipalities are already exempting seniors from permit fees associated with home improvements intended to accommodate a person with a physical disability,” said Senator Vitale. “This bill expands that exemption, because in many cases, seniors aren’t looking to build expansive additions to their homes – they’re simply looking to make themselves a little more comfortable in their golden years. This measure recognizes that seniors who have invested so much into their homes and their home towns should be given a little bit of freedom from permit fees for what usually amount to relatively minor home improvements.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.