Multiple Emergency Declarations Make Eighteen Month Permit Extensions Available in Certain Florida Counties

Published: December 7th, 2016

By: W. Lee Dobbins

This summer, Governor Scott issued Executive Order Nos. 16-155, 16-156 and 16-204 declaring a State of Emergency for Palm Beach, Lee, Martin, and St. Lucie Counties due to toxic algae blooms in local water ways. The emergency declaration was for 120 days from the date of the original Executive Order on June 9, 2016. In addition, on October 3, 2016, Governor Scott issued Executive Order 16-230 declaring a 60 day state-wide state of emergency due to Hurricane Matthew.

What Does This Mean for Land Owners and Development Projects?

These State of Emergency Declarations provide an opportunity for the owners of land development projects in the affected counties to extend the termination dates of certain land development approvals. Florida Statute 252.363 allows the extension of the termination dates of certain land development approvals for the duration of a State of Emergency Declaration plus an additional 6 months. The State of Emergency Declaration due to the toxic algae blooms, allows for affected land development approvals in Palm Beach, Lee, Martin and St. Lucie Counties to be extended by 10 months. The State of Emergency Declaration for Hurricane Matthew allows for affected land development approvals state-wide to be extended by an additional 8 months. This means that certain land-development approvals in Palm Beach, Lee, Martin and St. Lucie Counties may be extended for a total of 18 months, but only if the extension is exercised by no later than January 25, 2017.

What does Florida Statute 252.363 Apply to?

Florida Statute 252.363 applies to (a) the expiration of a development order issued by a local government, (b) the expiration of a building permit, (c) the expiration of a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district pursuant to part IV of Chapter 373, or (d) the buildout date of a development of regional impact, including the extension of a buildout date that was previously granted pursuant to F.S. 380.06(19)(c). The right to extend does not apply to (a) a permit or authorization for a building, improvement or development located outside of the listed counties, (b) a permit or authorization under any programmatic or regional general permit issued by The Army Corps of Engineers, (c) the holder of a permit which is in significant non-compliance with the permit conditions as set forth in a warning letter, notice of violation or enforcement action, or (d) a permit or authorization that is subject to a court order specifying an expiration or buildout date that would be in conflict with the extensions allowed by the statute.

How to Extend Your Land Permit

The right to extend applicable development approvals must be exercised within 90 days of the termination of the emergency declaration. In order to exercise the right to extend the development permit, the holder of the permit or approval must notify the issuing authority of its intent to exercise the extension in writing and identify the specific permit or authorization qualifying for the extension. The State of Emergency pursuant to Executive Orders 16-155, 16-156 and 16-204 for Palm Beach, Lee, Martin and St. Lucie Counties expired on October 28; therefore, in order to exercise the full 18 month extension, the permit holder must exercise its right to extend by delivering a letter to the permitting authority no later than January 25, 2017. Permit holders in other Florida counties can still take advantage of the State of Emergency Declaration for Hurricane Matthew to exercise an 8 month extension, by delivering a letter to the permitting authority no later than March 2, 2017.

About the Author:
Lee Dobbins is a shareholder in the Fort Pierce office of Dean Mead. He practices in the areas of zoning, land use and commercial real estate transactions and is a member of the firm’s Real Estate Development team. He represents property owners in the acquisition and development of land, including negotiating complex purchase contracts, due diligence, financing, title issues, closings and obtaining zoning and land use and site plan approvals from the local municipalities. He may be reached at ldobbins@deanmead.com.