Vested Reprieve for Developers

On March 19, 2010, Governor Mark Sanford provided a reprieve for developers when he signed House Bill 4445 (“H4445”), a joint resolution suspending the two year limit of the Vested Rights Act until December 31, 2012.

Prior to this joint resolution, an approval, in the City of Charleston for any development project was vested for two years. Pursuant to the City of Charleston Zoning Ordinance Article 9 Part 5 Section 54-962, the applicant could have a maximum of five extensions after the initial vested two year period of the approval.

Now, retroactively, H445 provides that any approval that is valid at any point between January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2012 the running of the period of the development approval and any associated vested right is suspended during the period beginning January 1, 2008 and ending December 31, 2012. Seemingly, H4445 applies to extensions that have been granted beyond the two year Vested Rights Act. Thus, if a developer’s fifth extension is about to expire, H4445 has provided an automatic extension until December 31, 2012.

H4445’s lauded benefit is the costs saving measures it provides. Since submitting an application is no longer required, the developer saves on application fees. The seconds cost saving benefit is the possible lost of the initial investment in the designs and plans for a development especially, if a developer’s fifth extension was to expire.

As the real estate market slowly turns the corner, H4445 comes as welcomed legislation by giving developers a little more breathing room.