On June 23, 2016 Governor Scott issued Executive Order 16-149 declaring a state of emergency in certain Florida counties due to the threat posed by the Zika virus. That state of emergency was extended in August and October through Executive Orders 16-193 and 16-233. On December 15, the Governor issued yet another extension of this state of emergency. Unless further extended, the Zika emergency declaration now expires 60 days from the date of Executive Order No. 16-288, or February 13, 2017. The emergency declaration applies to the following counties: Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Clay, Collier, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Highlands, Lee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Okaloosa, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Santa Rosa, Seminole, St. Johns, and Volusia.

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. Because the Zika virus state of emergency has been extended to February 13, 2017, the deadline for providing notice is now May 14, 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 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 extensions and to ensure the notice deadlines are met for each applicable extension. 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.