On June 29, 2016, Governor Scott issued Executive Order No. 16-155 declaring a State of Emergency for Martin and St. Lucie Counties due to toxic algae blooms in local water ways. On June 30, 2016 the Governor issued Executive Order 16-156 expanding the State of Emergency to include Lee and Palm Beach Counties. The emergency declaration was for 60 days from the date of the original Executive Order. Recently, Governor Scott issued Executive Order 16-204 which extended Executive Order 16-155 (as amended by Executive Order 16-156) for an additional 60 days.

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 permits. 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. In the case of the recent State of Emergency Declaration due to the toxic algae blooms, this would allow for affected land development approvals in Lee, Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie Counties to be extended by 10 months.

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. Therefore, assuming that the current state of emergency for Lee, Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie Counties expires on October 28 and is not further extended by the Governor, the permit holder must exercise its right to extend by delivering a letter to the permitting authority no later than January 26, 2017.