As Hurricane Idalia heads for Florida’s Gulf Coast, some property owners, developers, construction industry professionals, and other building permit- and authorization-holders may be eligible for extensions to preserve their development and construction rights. A Florida law allows certain qualifying permits and authorizations to be extended beyond their current expiration dates once the Governor issues a state of emergency stemming from natural causes. Governor DeSantis declared a 60-day state of emergency for several Florida counties in light of “Invest 93L,” now known as Tropical Storm Idalia, on August 26, 2023 (see Executive Order No. 23-175 Amending Executive Order Nos. 23-171, 23-172, 23-174, 23-212, and 23-244). The Governor extended the state of emergency by another 60-days on February 20, 2024, pursuant to Executive Order No. 24-33.
Whether or not this extension is available to you depends on your particular circumstances. While the following provides an overview of this permit extension law, including what types of permits and authorizations are covered and how long your extension could potentially be, Katie Berkey, Esq., AICP at Becker can advise you on whether and how this law can apply to your situation.
Qualifying for the Extension
The law at issue ‑‑Section 252.363(1)(a), Florida Statutes (2023), as amended by Section 4, Chapter 2023-304, Laws of Florida (SB 250, which applies retroactively to September 28, 2022) — provides that certain qualifying permits and authorizations are eligible for an extension once a state of emergency for a natural emergency is issued by the Governor for the length of time the state of emergency is in effect, plus an additional 24 months. A written request for the extension must be submitted to the authorizing governmental agency within 90 days after the state of emergency has expired (§ 252.363(1)(b), Florida Statutes). Six types of permits and authorizations qualify for an extension under these circumstances:
- The expiration of a development order issued by a local government, which includes a wide variety of local government approvals that permit development activities
- The expiration of a building permit
- The expiration of a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district for management and storage of surface waters pursuant to Part IV of Chapter 373, Florida Statutes
- 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, for land subject to a development agreement under Sections 163.3220-163.3243, Florida Statutes, in which the permittee and the developer are the same or a related entity
- The buildout date of a Development of Regional Impact
- The expiration of a development permit or development agreement authorized by the Florida Statutes, including those authorized under the Florida Local Government Agreement Act under Section 163.3221, Florida Statutes, or issued by a local government or other governmental agency
Accordingly, these Executive Orders collectively provide an opportunity to extend certain permits and authorizations in any of the listed counties for a total of 120 days plus 24 months following submittal of a timely written notification to the authorizing government agency. If the state of emergency were to be extended further by the Governor, this would increase the deadline by which the written request must be filed and the total extension available. However, under Senate Bill 250, the maximum extension period may not exceed forty-eight (48) months in total in the event of multiple natural emergencies for which the Governor declared a state of emergency.
Notifying the Authorities That You Are Invoking Your Right to an Extension
You do not need to apply to a government agency to get permission to extend qualifying permits and authorizations. Rather, the extension occurs as a matter of law as long as you supply a written notification of your intent to exercise your right under the statute to the appropriate government body. There is even a possibility that extensions could extend for as long as four years under the right circumstances. This can occur where states of emergency are declared one after another in the same counties, something that can be a common occurrence in Florida due to the state’s weather volatility.
How Becker Can Help
If you hold permits or other authorizations in Florida and would like assistance in reviewing and evaluating possible opportunities for extension to preserve your development rights, please contact Katie Berkey, Esq., AICP.
Katie Berkey, Esq., AICP, is a Board Certified Specialist in City, County and Local Government Law and a certified Professional Planner by the American Institute of Certified Planners; she is also a shareholder with Becker & Poliakoff. Katie represents clients in zoning, land use and planning matters. She serves on the board of directors for Keep Lee County Beautiful, is a member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) of Southwest Florida Management Committee and ULI’s Women’s Leadership Initiative steering committee and serves on the Mothers Esquire Breastfeeding Accommodations Committee. If you want to know more about what options may be available for your current or future development in light of the “Live Local Act,” please do not hesitate to contact Katie.