Pending Legislation Aims to Relieve Processing Headache During Natural Emergency

Pending Legislation Aims to Relieve Processing Headache During Natural Emergency

New bill would expand list of permits and authorizations qualifying for extension due to a Governor-declared natural emergency.

Section 252.363(1)(a), Florida Statutes, provides that certain permits and authorizations are eligible for an extension once a natural emergency is declared by the Governor for the length of time the declaration is in effect plus an additional six (6) months. Four types of permits and authorizations currently qualify for an extension under these circumstances:

  1. Development orders issued by a local government, which includes a wide variety of local government approvals that permit development activities;
  2. Building permits;
  3. Water resource permits issued by the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district pursuant to Part IV of Chapter 373, Florida Statutes; and
  4. The build-out date of a Development of Regional Impact.

If codified, pending Florida House Bill 859 (and similar Florida Senate Bill 912) will expand the list of permits and authorizations eligible for extension to include:

  1. consumptive water use permits issued by the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district pursuant to Part II of Chapter 373, Florida Statutes; and
  2. development permits or development agreements authorized by Florida Statutes or issued by a local government or other governmental agency.

The Bill further provides that it will apply retroactively to any declaration of a state of emergency for a natural emergency issued by the Governor on or after March 1, 2020. Under this retroactive application, existing qualifying permits and authorizations added by the Bill may receive an extension for the state of emergency declared by the Governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic under Executive Order 20-52 (Mar. 9, 2020), as extended by Executive Orders 20-114, 20-166, 20-192, 20-213, 20-276, 20-316, and 21-45.

If you hold permits or other authorizations in Florida and would like assistance in reviewing and evaluating possible opportunities for extension under the statute to preserve your development rights, or the implications of this pending legislation, please contact Kathleen O. Berkey, Esq., AICP.