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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
(787) 759-3166

jgomez@fgrlaw.com

María L. González Hernández
(787) 759-3173

mlgonzal@fgrlaw.com

 

Eduardo Negrón Navas

(787) 759-3106

enegron@fgrlaw.com

Pedro J. Reyes Bibiloni

(787) 759-3208

preyes@fgrlaw.com

 

MAJOR MODIFICATIONS TO THE PERMITTING PROCESS APPROVED

 

Act 151-2013, enacted on December 10, 2013, amends the Puerto Rico permitting process established by the Permit Process Reform Act, Act No. 161-2009. The Permit Process Reform Act had substantially modified the permitting process that existed for nearly forty years, by consolidating the environmental impact review process with the land use and construction permit processes, and creating the Permits Management Office (OGPE for its Spanish acronym), the Permits General Inspector’s Office (Inspector’s Office), the Adjudicative Board, and the Permits and Land Use Review Board.

 

The amendments introduced by Act 151-2013 revert some of the modifications introduced by the Permit Process Reform Act. As a result of the amendments, the Permits General Inspector’s Office, the Adjudicative Board, and the Permits and Land Use Review Board were eliminated. The enforcement and audit powers of the Inspector’s Office will now be exercised by OGPe. Act 151-2013 also grants additional authority to the OGPe Executive Director, including the power to grant discretionary and ministerial permits, which were formerly issued by the Adjudicative Board. The OGPe decisions are subject to reconsideration before an administrative judge of OGPe, who may hold hearings. The final OGPe decisions that were reviewed by the Land Use Review Board will now be subject to judicial review by the Court of Appeals.

 

Act 151-2013 grants the Planning Board the audit powers, formerly exercised by the Inspector’s Office, to inspect the final determinations and permits issued by OGPe and the authorized professionals. It also grants the Puerto Rico Planning Board the exclusive authority to evaluate and adjudicate all site consultation proceedings.

 

The amendments introduced by the Act separate the environmental impact review, from the land use and construction permit processes; the OGPe determinations of both procedures will be subject to separate judicial review proceedings. It also reinstates the application of the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, Act 170-1988, to the evaluation and adjudication process of all final permit decisions and enforcement actions of OGPe and Autonomous Municipalities.

 

The Act creates a “Single Permit” for commercial establishments, which will integrate all the certifications and endorsements into a single document for display at the establishment.

 

The provisions of Act 151-2013 will become effective on January 9, 2014. Cases pending before the Adjudicative Board or the Inspector’s Office will be transferred to OGPe, and cases pending before the Permits and Land Use Review Board will continue within said agency for a period not to exceed 180 days. Act 151-2013 also orders all Concerned Governmental Entities to amend, repeal and promulgate all their regulations, orders and memorandums establishing procedures, policies and permit forms, to simplify and clarify them within 180 days. OGPe’s Executive Director has already expressed publicly that the Construction and Land Use Joint Permits Regulation will be revised pursuant to the provisions of the Act 151-2013.

 

If you have any questions regarding this matter or would like to know more of our Firm’s experience in this area please call us. If you know anyone that would like to read the FGR Environmental Watch, please feel free to forward this article. Stay tuned for further updates of FGR ENVIRONMENTAL WATCH.

©2014 FIDDLER GONZÁLEZ & RODRÍGUEZ, P.S.C. Permission is granted to view, store, print, copy or distribute the content of this article for noncommercial or personal use, provided you do not alter it and you give us proper credit.

The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice or advertising. In addition, the above discussion has been provided in general terms and, therefore, should not be relied upon as legal advice applicable to a specific set of facts and circumstances. Before taking legal action, consult a lawyer you trust. Although we will try to be accurate, you cannot rely on its applicability to your specific problem without consulting your lawyer. Fiddler González & Rodríguez, P.S.C. and the members of the Environmental Practice Group assume no responsibility to inform you of additional changes in law or any other legal issues related to matters addressed in this email of which we may become aware after the date hereof.

***IRS CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any United States federal tax advice in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written by Fiddler González & Rodríguez, PSC to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding any penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. ***

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San Juan, PR 00936-3507

 

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