On October 3, 2016, Governor Scott issued Executive Order 16-230 declaring a 60-day state of emergency throughout the entire State of Florida, due to the threat posed by Hurricane Matthew. On December 1, 2016, the Governor issued Executive Order 16-274, extending the Hurricane Matthew state of emergency for another 60 days.

Florida Statute 252.363 provides an extension for permits and authorizations when the Governor declares a state of emergency, effective within the area covered by the emergency declaration. With some exceptions, the extension applies to expiration of local-government-issued development orders (such as rezonings and proportionate share agreements with phasing or expiration dates), building permits, Development of Regional Impact build-out dates, and Environmental Resource Permits issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or water management districts pursuant to Part IV of Ch. 373, Florida Statutes. These extensions do not apply to federal permits.

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.

Within 90 days after the termination of the emergency declaration, the holder of the permit or authorization must provide written notice to the issuing authority of the intent to exercise the tolling and extension granted. The notice must reference Section 252.363, Florida Statutes, identify the specific permit or other authorization qualifying for extension and identify the particular state of emergency under which the extension is being sought. Because the Hurricane Matthew state of emergency has been extended to January 31, 2017, the deadline for providing notice is now May 1, 2017.

This is one of several emergency declarations issued by the Governor over the past several months for various storms and other events. While multiple extensions may be applicable to some projects under the recent executive orders, overlapping tolling periods cannot be double-counted. Care must therefore be taken in calculating the total amount of time available under the various extensions. In addition, governmental agencies vary in their approaches to recognizing extension opportunities provided under this statute. Clients are therefore advised not to rely on any such extension until it has been acknowledged by the issuing authority.