TRENTON – Following Woodbridge Mayor Frank Pelzman’s call in his 2006 State of the Township Address for senior citizen homeowners to be exempt from construction permit fees, Senator Joseph F. Vitale has pushed through legislation to accomplish this on a Statewide basis, which was approved today by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee by a vote of 4-0.
“For so many seniors living on fixed incomes, and trying to balance a budget of high-cost medications and day-to-day living, home improvements can be next to impossible,” said Senator Vitale, D-Woodbridge. “By removing the permitting cost from the equation, we can do our part in promoting senior home improvements, and allowing them to maintain their quality of life and remain an important part of their communities. Mayor Pelzman deserves a lot of credit for pushing this important initiative in Woodbridge, and we think it will work well for the rest of New Jersey.”
“This law gives an additional incentive to residents over age 62 to reinvest in their single family homes,” said Mayor Pelzman. “It is important that seniors have a chance to enjoy the comfort of their home as they enter their retirement years.”
The bill, S-1759, would allow municipalities to provide, through local ordinance, that senior citizen homeowners over the age of 62 could be exempt from being charged construction permit fees. The bill specifies that seniors would not be charged construction permit surcharge fees for construction, reconstruction, alteration or improvement of a home that is owned and occupied as their primary residence. Under current law, municipalities have the option of not charging permit surcharges on home improvements needed to make a public or private facility more accessible to persons with physical disabilities.
“We’re extending the current exemption because too often, seniors are forced to let their homes fall into disrepair, because they can’t afford to make improvements and repairs,” said Senator Vitale. “Through this legislation, we can remove one small barrier keeping seniors from being able to maintain their homes.”
Most importantly, added Mayor Pelzman, the program will help boost property values. “Relief from permit fees gives homeowners more money to budget toward repair,” he said.
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.