New Development Extension Opportunities Now Available

by Akerman LLP
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The Florida Legislature has provided numerous extensions for development permits and approvals over the past several years, which have typically required that the holder of the permit or approval provide notice to the issuing agency by a specific deadline. Chapter 2014-218, Laws of Florida (House Bill 7023) affords another such opportunity. In addition, the Governor's recent declaration of a state of emergency in certain North Florida counties triggers an extension under Section 252.363, Florida Statutes. Details of these extensions and the criteria for qualifying are found below. 

New Two-Year Extension 

While the criteria for this new two-year extension limits its applicability, it presents an opportunity for many projects that missed past extensions or were recently approved. 

The extension applies to building permits and permits issued by the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district pursuant to part IV of Chapter 373, Florida Statutes, with an expiration date from January 1, 2014 through January 1, 2016. The extension includes local government-issued development orders and building permits, including certificates of levels of service. There are some exceptions. The commencement and completion dates for required mitigation associated with a phased construction project are likewise extended.

This extension can be combined with certain other extensions, but cannot be taken by DRIs that received the four-year DRI extension under Section 54 of Chapter 2011-139, Laws of Florida. In addition, it cannot be combined with the two-year extensions under section 14 of Chapter 2009-96, as reauthorized by section 47 of Chapter 2010-147; section 46 of Chapter 2010-147; section 74 or 79 of Chapter 2011-139; or section 24 of Chapter 2012-205, Laws of Florida to exceed four years in total.

To exercise the extension, the holder of the permit or authorization must provide written notice to the authorizing agency by December 31, 2014, identifying the authorization being extended and the anticipated timeframe for acting on the authorization. 

Emergency Declaration Extension for North Florida Counties

Section 252.363, Florida Statutes, provides an extension for certain development-related permits and authorizations when the Governor declares a state of emergency, effective within the area covered by the emergency declaration. The emergency declaration tolls the period remaining to exercise the rights under a permit or other authorization for the duration of the emergency declaration and extends the deadline for the permit or authorization for an additional 6 months beyond the tolled period. With some exceptions, this extension applies to expiration of local-government-issued development orders, building permits, DEP and water management district permits issued pursuant to part IV of chapter 373 and to DRI build-out dates. 

The holder of the permit or authorization must provide written notice to the issuing authority within 90 days after the termination of the emergency declaration of the intent to exercise the tolling and extension granted. The notice must identify the specific permit or other authorization qualifying for extension. 

On April 30, 2014, the Governor issued Executive Order Number 14-144, declaring a state of emergency in 25 Florida counties due to severe weather and flash flooding. The order was effective in the following counties: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Liberty, Franklin, Gadsden, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwanee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Alachua and Levy.  The emergency declaration was effective for 60 days, expiring on June 29, 2014 and the total extension available for eligible permits and authorizations is 6 months and 60 days. The 90-day deadline for providing written notice to the issuing authority of the intent to exercise the extension is September 27, 2014.

Coordinated Approach Needed

If you are eligible for both the two-year extension and the emergency declaration extension, you should also consider the appropriate time for filing for the emergency declaration extension. Filing for the emergency declaration extension prior to providing notice for the two-year extension may be construed to affect the applicability of the two-year extension, due to the January 1, 2014 through January 1, 2016 expiration date criteria required for the two-year extension. A coordinated approach to filing the notices may therefore be needed.

Clients are urged not to delay in filing the notices required to exercise the extensions. The various extensions may or may not apply to specific development approvals. 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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