Supreme Court Declines to Address Nullification of 2020 Joint Regulation for Issuance of Permits

On June 4th, 2021, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court denied a Petition for Certiorari filed by the Puerto Rico Planning Board in case Comité Pro-Seguridad ARRAQ y ARESPA, et. al. v. Junta de Planificación (CC-2021-0296), which sought to reverse an Appeals Court Judgement that nullified the Joint Regulation for the Evaluation and Issuance of Permits Related to the Development, Use of Land and Business Operations which was approved and has been valid since the year 2020 (“2020 Joint Resolution”).
 
As its name suggests, the 2020 Joint Resolution was elaborated with the purpose creating a uniform zoning system and unifying all legal processes related to property development, construction, and use. Such processes include, but are not limited to, the issuance of permits, licenses, and certifications, as well as the administrative procedures for addressing claims, queries, authorizations, and any other procedure related to the construction of properties or the operation of businesses in Puerto Rico.
 
In the Resolution issued by a panel made up of Justices Pabón Charneco, Rivera García, Estrella Martínez, and Chief Justice Oronoz Rodríguez, the Supreme Court stated that the reason for the denial of the petition was a “gross breach of the Supreme Court Regulations”.
 
The Puerto Rico Planning Board may file a petition for reconsideration which might lead to the Supreme Court reversing its stance on the Petition’s compliance with the Court’s Regulations.
 
This is the government’s second failed attempt at replacing the 2010 Joint Regulation of Permits for Construction and Land Use (“2010 Joint Regulation”) in the past 3 years. A Joint Regulation for the Evaluation and Issuance of Permits Related to the Development, Use of Land and Business Operations was approved in 2019 (“2019 Joint Regulation”) but was shortly challenged in the courts and nullified by the Court of Appeals because it failed to follow the approval process required by law. However, the case related to the 2019 Joint Regulation is still under the consideration of the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, a year later, the 2020 Joint Regulation was approved by the Puerto Rico Planning Board. However, the 2020 Joint Regulation was once again challenged and nullified by the Court of Appeals by concluding that the Puerto Rico Planning Board failed to prepare and publish an executive summary of the proposed Joint Regulation, which is required under the law.
 
At this time, it is still uncertain whether the Supreme Court will reconsider its Resolution denying consideration of the 2020 Joint Regulation nullification, or if the Supreme Court will reverse the Court of Appeal’s judgement regarding the 2019 Joint Regulation. Nonetheless, there is a clear possibility the 2010 Joint Regulation will become valid and enforceable once again.