Business Connect: Your Guide To Starting A Business Or Project In Jersey City
Jersey City Welcomes Your Investment
Thank you for choosing to expand, move, or start your business in Jersey City! Your investment in our city speaks volumes of the potential growth that exists here. Welcome!
This guide will assist you, the small business or building owner, to familiarize yourselves with, and thereby expediting, the process you'll need to follow to obtain the proper building permits which will lead to the City issuing a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).
By clearly spelling out the steps necessary for State Code Compliance, it is our hope you will experience less confusion and avoid unnecessary delays. This page will guide you through the process of obtaining building permits; however, if you ever require assistance throughout any phase of your project or difficulty receiving your CO, please feel free to contact Senior Project Manager, Jorge Dones, at 201-547-5103. The City wants to make your process run as smoothly as possible.
Read this page and familiarize yourself with all the requirements needed to obtain a CO. Only then can you determine which section(s) pertain to your project or business. You'll then be prepared to meet all requirements.
About The Jersey City Department Of Housing, Economic Development & Commerce
The Department of Housing, Economic Development and Commerce (HEDC) is a diverse group of planners, officials, managers, inspectors, and support staff. HEDC's purpose is to protect and further the public welfare by planning and overseeing the orderly growth and development of Jersey City’s residential, commercial, non-profit, and industrial sectors. We do this by coordinating with other agencies and through comprehensive planning, regulation of land use, permitting, code enforcement, and disbursement of state and federal grant funds.
Public welfare and quality of life also fall under HEDC's purview. We regularly supporting social services providers and staffing boards while enforcing building and housing codes, rent and tenant laws, and issuing business licenses. (All of which are state required.)
Who's Who at HEDC:
|Anthony Cruz, Acting Director of HEDC
|Jorge Dones, HEDC Senior Project Manager
|Division & Autonomous Agencies’ Directors & Phone Numbers:
|City of Jersey City
|Division of Zoning
|Office of The Construction Code Official
|Division of Planning
|Director of Fire Department
|Deputy Fire Official
|Municipal Utilities Authority, Executive Director
|Incinerator Authority, Chief Executive Officer
||Oren K.Dabney, Sr.
|Parking Authority, Chief Executive Officer
||Mary F. Paretti
|DCA Code Assistance
|DCA Regulatory Affairs
Jersey City's Urban Enterprise Zone Program (UEZ)
The Jersey City Economic Development Corporation Urban Enterprise Zone Program welcomes you and you will find that Jersey City is an extraordinarily business-friendly community! We at the UEZ are here to assist you in locating your business and helping it thrive.
The Jersey City UEZ Program is one of the largest and most productive UEZ programs in New Jersey. We offer member businesses a number of tax and financial incentives that help them grow, thereby stimulating the local economy. Certified UEZ member businesses may:
• Sell certain goods at 3.5% sales tax - half the normal NJ Tax Rate
• Purchase construction materials and other tangible property tax free
• Be eligible for a corporate tax credit of $500 - $1,500 for each new hire
• Save up to 50% on unemployment insurance for the first four years of operation.
One-third of Jersey City has been designated as an Urban Enterprise Zone.
Please contact our office to verify that your location is within one of the three Urban Enterprise Zones and learn what is required for becoming a certified UEZ business member.
There are two UEZ grants which may benefit your business:
• The Business Relocation Grant awards eligible businesses not presently located in New Jersey up to $50,000 for relocating their businesses within one of the Jersey City UEZs
• The Business Improvement Grant For Capital Improvements helps rehabilitate or improve the facades and exteriors of buildings housing businesses and stores by providing matching funds of up to $20,000 to property and business owners who may not have the financial resources to begin and complete an improvement project on their own.
For more information on the three Jersey City UEZs and available grants, please contact the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) at 201-333-7797 or visit the EDC on-line at www.jcedc.org.
1. Overview For New Businesses
Having found and secured a desirable Jersey City location, you are now ready to begin improvements on your new commercial space. Here are five important steps to remember:
- First, visit the Zoning Department and make sure the area you've chosen for your business is zoned for that business.
- Immediately notify the Jersey City Department of Housing, Economic Development, & Commerce about your project. The City welcomes your investment and is here to help. The "Go-to-Person" for any questions or concerns you may have during this process will be our Senior Project Manager, Jorge Dones at 201-547-4941.
- Plan and Budget Carefully. Depending on whether your project is renovating existing construction or new construction, it can take anywhere from several weeks to several months before you are officially open for business. Thoroughly discuss a reasonable timeline with your contactor and landlord so you can plan and budget accordingly. Unforeseen delays do happen and should be taken into account at the beginning of any project
- Hire Only Licensed, Registered Contractors. By State Statute your contractor must be licensed by the state of New Jersey and you or your contractor must obtain all the permits required for the job. These requirements are in place to protect you. Remember – cutting corners at the beginning by hiring an unlicensed contractor will most likely run you into higher costs later on. For more information, check out http://www.state.nLus/lps/ca/HIC/
- Obtain Copies of All Permits for Your Records. For various reasons, the contractor you hire to start the job may not necessarily be the one who finishes it. It is your responsibility as the business owner to obtain copies of all permits as they are issued. You are well within your rights to require your contractor to give you copies of all permits issued.
- Ask Questions and Always Follow Up. We realize this may be the first time you have made a capital investment in Jersey City. Use this reference guide to help you navigate through the process. Don’t be afraid to ask your contractor or the City questions and always document concerns in writing. Remember, contractors work for you and City officials are here to help you at any time.
Remember - we want to see you open for business sooner rather than later.
2. When Do You Need A Construction Code Permit?
Changes to properties and structures, including both new construction and renovations or remodeling, all require permits under the Code of the State of New Jersey.
Here are specific guidelines and examples to help you determine whether you will need permits for planned electrical, plumbing, or structural work on your property. WHETHER YOU HIRE A CONTRACTOR OR DO THE WORK YOURSELF, IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ASSURE ALL PROPER PERMITS ARE OBTAINED AND THE WORK IS DONE TO CODE REQUIREMENTS.
The following is work that requires a permit:
- All new building construction
- Construction of any additions made to existing property
- Any alterations made to existing property
- Hazardous locations
- Any reconstruction done at an existing property
- Any structural repairs and/or modifications made to existing property
- The installation of fire alarm systems The installation of sprinkler systems
- The installation of any Hood and Suppression systems
- Any work done to renovate a space to meet the code requirement for a Day Care
- Any demolition work
- Constructing a deck.
Still not clear? Call us at 201-547-6898.
The Jersey City Office of the Construction Code Official makes the review and approval process of permits and forms as brief and convenient as possible. Please do your part by having the necessary information when applying for the proper permit. If you need any further information or assistance, don’t hesitate to call the Jersey City Building Department with any questions at 201-547-6898.
3. Office Of The Construction Code Official
The Office of the Construction Code Official is where you obtain Construction Code Permits:
Ray Meyer, Construction Code Official
Office of Construction Code Official
30 Montgomery Street, 4th floor, RM 412
Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
Office hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays, and are from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
4. Dealing With The Construction Code Division
The purpose of this guide is to expedite the review and inspection process for new projects and expanding businesses within the City of Jersey City.
The key individual involved in this process is Ray Meyer, Construction Code Official.
Problems reported to any individuals, agencies, or departments concerning applications or inspections within the City of Jersey City should be reported directly to Ray Meyer at 201-547-6898 or by e-mailing Raymondm@jcnj.org.
How the Construction Code Application helps your business venture:
- Register your intentions with HEDC
- Assign a project manager to coordinate activities
- Set up a preliminary meeting with Office of the Construction Code Official to go over requirements necessary for your project
- Process and review all plans and permits within two (2) Business Days
- Process and review application denials or set-up a meeting with you or your contractors, engineers, or architect
- Conduct inspections (scheduled by your project manager) within two (2) Business Days
- Conduct re-inspections within two (2) Business Days
- Process and issue Temporary or Permanent Certificate of Occupancy within three (3) Business Days
Note: Special standards and reviews apply to properties within a historic area, which occupy an historic site, or which are designed as landmarks.
For further information, please call 201-547-5050
5. Division of Zoning - Overview
It is recommended that you contact the Zoning Division for use and occupancy requirements. The Division of Zoning phone number is 201-547-6564.
You also need to contact the Zoning Department after you meet with HEDC to see if there are any other requirements you may need from the Office of Historic Preservation.
Redevelopment areas and projects requiring Site Plan Approvals, Variances, and Flood Elevations are handled through the Planning Division. Inquiries may be made at: http://www.cityofjerseycity.com/hedc.aspx?id=1170
Additionally, if you are hiring a contractor, you should confirm that this individual is in good standing with and has the required State of New Jersey license for his or her specialty, such as plumbing, electrical, etc.
6. How To Obtain A Sign Permit From The Zoning Division:
- Complete a building permit application
- Submit three (3) sets of drawings of the planned signage
- Drawings should include:
a. Proposed location of sign on a site plan
b. Blueprint drawing which shows actual sign dimensions, including sign height, width, and font colors
c. If there is an existing sign, please provide a picture
d. Accurate computer rendering of what the sign will look like on the building façade, complete with the sign’s total square footage. Your sign company should be able to help you with this. Remember, both before (building without sign) and after (building with sign) pictures or drawings are required to be submitted
e. Sign cannot exceed 20 square feet
f. All signs require Zoning Division approval.
7. Prior Approvals
Based upon your meeting with the Office of the Construction Code Official, prior approvals will be discussed and identified. With the exception of minor work, certain prior approvals may be required. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Prior to undertaking a project the Zoning Office should be contacted first to ensure it complies with Zoning regulations and other prior approvals. Their phone number is 201-547-6564
- If the work planned is disturbing soil in excess of 5000 square feet, you must file a plan with Soil Erosion and Sediment Control at http://www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/anr/nrc/njdep.html
- The MUA also issues approvals for water, sprinkler, and sewer connections and is located at 555 Route 440. Their number is 201-432-1150
- Approvals for food establishments, restaurants, or beauty shops are obtained through the Jersey City Health Department, at 201-547-6800
- For life hazard use groups and high rises or permits for the use of torches to replace or repair roofs, you will need to contact Jersey City Fire Department, at 465 Luis Munoz Marin Boulevard. Their number is 201-547-4256
- The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission also must review plans for additions and new construction. They will determine any plan adjustments needed as well as fees required. Their number is 973-817-5706
- Jurisdiction over construction or renovation in historic districts or the demolition of buildings 100 years old or more in age falls under the pervue of Historic Preservation. Their office can be contacted at 201-547-4312
- The State of New Jersey reviews all projects involving school, hospital, MRI, CAT Scan, and Adult Medical Day Care facilities
- Footing and Foundation permits are issued provided there is Zoning approval, a soil investigation report, and soil erosion approval for excavation of more than 5000 square feet of dirt. Two (2) copies of the footing and foundation plan and a pre-site survey are required for submission
8. Notes To Building And/Or Business Owners
- Contractors are not required to be listed on the permit documents for filing
- Contractor performance is a contractual issue. This office does not mediate contract disputes. Our responsibility is to verify code compliance. This office DOES NOT AND CANNOT recommend contractors
- The City of Jersey City, as with other communities within the State, has no modifications to the adopted State codes
- Application forms may be obtained from the state website, http://www.state/nj.us/dca/divisions/codes/resources/contructionpermitforms.html.
9. Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need to obtain a permit?
A. New Jersey State Law requires it. A permit is required to construct or rehabilitate a structure.
What kind of renovation/construction job requires a permit?
A. Please refer to the Building Permit section earlier in this document. Generally, a building permit is needed for any work beyond cosmetic maintenance (i.e. painting). When in doubt, please call the Building Department at 201-547-5055.
Who is required to obtain the permit if I hired a contractor?
A. Your contractor may obtain all the permits you need, but as the owner, you ARE RESPONSIBLE to verify all permits need have been issued for the property.
When is a sprinkler system required?
A. The need for a sprinkler system is required based upon the plans provided by your architect, engineer, or draftsman. Those plans should be in accordance with Chapter 9 on NJIBC 2009 and the appropriate Section of the NJ rehabilitation sub-code NJAC5:23.
Do I need to be present for an inspection?
A. No, any person with knowledge of work performed at the construction location and with the ability to convey information back to the contractor can be present.
I have concerns about my contractor. Who can I call for help?
A. Contact the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission. You may also research your contractor's license with the State of New Jersey at http://www.state.ni.us/lps/ca/HIC/. Document all problems with your contractor in writing.
What if I am moving my business into a site which formerly housed a similar business, such as a restaurant? Do I still need to have it gutted and updated?
A. No. Not as long as the current space has a C.O.
I have concerns about a City inspector. Who can I go to for help?
A. Notify the HEDC Senior Project Manager immediately of the concern at 201-547-4941.
I want to install a new storefront sign. Do I really need a permit?
A.Yes. Installing a sign that conforms to City Code will save you time, money, and avoid a hefty fine.
When the project is complete, how many inspections are required before getting a Certificate of Occupancy?
A.You will need inspections for all those areas for which a permit was taken, and these inspections are necessary to receive your CO. You must obtain all Final Inspection Stickers before receiving your CO.
Prior to applying for a Certificate of Occupancy, a Temporary CO, or a Certificate of Continued Occupancy, what must I be sure to have?
A. All required inspections must be completed and approved. A Temporary CO still must be signed by all inspectors. All life safety requirements must be completed and approved. The application for a Certificate of Occupancy must be signed and approved by the Zoning Division.
Download Complete Business Connect Booklet, including Flowchart & Applications, here.