Over the past several months, Governor Scott has continued to issue emergency declarations, resulting in the opportunity for developers to claim extensions of certain development approvals. Two new states of emergency were declared this spring for wildfires (EO 17-120) and the opioid epidemic (17-146). Recent executive orders extended the tolling period for the Zika virus (EO 17-166) and wildfires (EO 17-174). The previously extended emergency declaration for Hurricane Matthew (EO 17-67) has now expired, but can still be claimed if required notifications are filed by the statutory deadline.

Florida Statute 252.363 provides an extension for certain 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 state of emergency 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.

The chart below provides information on the currently available extension opportunities. With the exception of Zika, these emergency declarations were issued statewide; the Zika emergency declaration was issued only for certain counties, as identified within the original Executive Order (16-149).

Extension Start Expiration* Deadline to Notify
Zika Virus 6/23/16 8/7/17 11/5/17
Hurricane Matthew 10/3/16 5/31/17 8/29/17
Wildfires 4/11/17 8/9/17 11/7/17
Opioid Epidemic 5/3/17 7/2/17 9/30/17

*Unless extended

While multiple extensions may be applicable to some projects under the recent executive orders and each state of emergency provides a separate 6-month extension, overlapping tolling periods cannot be double-counted. Care must therefore be taken in calculating the total amount of time available under the various development approval extensions and to ensure the notice deadlines are met for each applicable extension. In addition, governmental agencies may vary in their approaches to recognizing extension opportunities provided under this statute and to calculating the extension periods and deadlines. Clients are therefore advised not to rely on any such extension until it has been acknowledged by the issuing authority.