NJ Got Rid of Permits for Roof Jobs — Mayors Say That Was Bad Idea
A poorly-timed rule that took effect in March opens the door to concerns for residents' safety and municipalities' revenue streams, according to town officials looking to reverse the change.
More than a month after the state eliminated the requirement that a permit or inspection be obtained for roofing and siding jobs on one- and two-family dwellings, it's still not sitting well with at least some of New Jersey's mayors, who had been against the move since the administration of former Gov. Chris Christie floated the idea.
Paul Tomasko, the mayor of Alpine, was the first of three New Jersey mayors to bring up the issue during a recent Q&A session with Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who also heads the state Department of Community Affairs.
"I think there's more reasons to have these kinds of regulations than to blanket-eliminate them," Tomasko told the Townsquare News Network. "By having to come in and get a permit, it pretty much assured that the people doing the work were licensed and presumably qualified — much more so than if they're able to just show up and do it on their own."
Mayors and contractors fear no permit could equal no accountability for a job badly done.
Joe Richmond, a licensed roofer in Freehold, told us in March the change may allow more non-licensed/insured individuals to land jobs.
"There's no checks or balances anymore," he said. "A township official is not going to show up on your job anymore and say, 'Where's your permit?'"
Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornik said the primary concern is residents living in unsafe structures, but eliminating the need for permits will also eliminate the fees brought in by towns to distribute the permits.
"The reduction and loss of fees may cause some other things to be tweaked in order to the meet the demands of our public," Hornik said.
According to Mike Cerra, assistant executive director for the New Jersey League of Municipalities, the rule change could not have launched at a worse time for towns and cities.
"This regulation came out in March, just as municipalities — over 550 of them — are finalizing their budgets for the year, making revenue estimates," Cerra said.
He said the recent change will also have an impact on property assessments. When a major improvement is made to a home, the township won't be aware, he said.
"Almost at the 11th hour, the state changes the rules of the game," Cerra said. "Hopefully it'll be modified or reverted in some way."
The Department of Community Affairs did not respond to requests for comment.