If you have any questions in regards to the above, please do not hesitate to contact our offices so that we may explain the amendments to the provisions of the Code in more detail. Our address is:
Fiddler González & Rodríguez, P.S.C., P.O. Box 363507, San Juan, PR 00936-3507. Our fax (787) 759-3108.
We welcome your questions and comments.
Juan Carlos Gómez Escarce
María L. González Hernández
Pedro J. Reyes Bibiloni
On February 7, 2017, Governor Rosselló introduced a bill to modify Puerto Rico’s permit system (Senate Bill 310), and promote its reliability, and efficiency, and stimulate business activity. Senate Bill 310 proposes amendments to the Permits Process Reform Act (Act No. 161-2009), the Public Policy Environmental Act (Act 416-2004), the Autonomous Municipalities Act (Act 81-1991), the Organic Act of the Department of Sports and Recreation (Act 8-2004), the Act for Emergency Events Procedures (Act 76-2000), and mandates the Planning Board to amend the Territorial Land Plans.
To simplify and expedite permit procedures, Senate Bill 310 creates a Single Permit for all existing and new buildings with non-residential and commercial uses. The Single Permit consolidates the use permit, categorical exclusion certification, fire prevention certification, environmental health certification, sanitary license and any other license required to operate a business. A Single Permit must be submitted to amend a use permit or request a name change.
The Bill will create the Incidental Operational Single Permit, which consolidates, among others, the General Consolidated Permit, the Incidental Earth Extraction Permit, and the General Permits for Works. The Bill will integrate in one Construction Permit process the construction, reconstruction, remodeling, demolition, and urbanization permits procedures.
Senate Bill 310 proposes a computerized Unified Information System to process and evaluate all land development, construction and use permits applications, consultations, inspections, administrative complaints, imposition of penalties, and any other process that may affect a business’s operation. This System may use the data base from all government agencies and municipalities. The public will have access to non-confidential information in the Unified Information System.
If promulgated, the Permits Management Office (OGPe, by its Spanish acronym) will be responsible for granting location approvals, ministerial and delegated discretional permits, and for determining environmental compliance of the environmental assessments. An Adjudicative Board will be in charge of adjudicating discretionary permit applications not delegated to OGPe and of determining environmental compliance of environmental impact statements. OGPe’s enforcement authority will be exercised by the Planning Board, which will also be in charge of handling administrative complaints. OGPe will not respond to the Planning Board.
The Bill proposes specific time frames for the evaluation and adjudication of cases: 180 days for non-discretionary proceedings for which a public hearing is required and the environmental impact statement process, 120 days if no public hearings are required, and 30 days for ministerial cases.
An Administrative Review Division will replace the Reconsideration of Final Determinations Division. The Court of Appeals will review final permit decisions. The Bill requires the Supreme Court to establish special panels of Court of Appeals’ judges to review administrative cases and issue final decisions in 60 days.
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