If your building permit or development order expired since last September or is set to expire before January 2012, you are eligible for a two year extension of the permit pursuant to the Community Renewal Act. On June 1, 2009, Governor Charlie Crist signed into law the Community Renewal Act (SB 360). The Act provides for some important incentives for development recognizing the issues facing today's developer. Water management and certain Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) permits, local development and building permits are eligible for an extension of two years. Additionally, certain build-out dates may be extended for two years. To take advantage of these permit extensions, you must notify the authorizing agency in writing of your intention to receive the extension by December 31, 2009.

TRANSPORTATION CONCURRENCY

The Act also provides incentives for development in densely populated counties and municipalities by changing the transportation concurrency rules. If your development cannot be built because of insufficient capacity on the road right-of-way, your project may now be allowable based on new legislation in the Act. The Transportation Concurrency Exception Areas (TCEAs) are permitted in counties or municipalities that meet the definition of a "dense urban land area." It is anticipated that most of the cities and the counties in the Southwest Florida area will meet this definition and qualify as a transportation concurrency exception area.

Now may be the best time to dust off those proposed plans to benefit from an exemption from transportation concurrency standards. To take the benefit of the exemption from transportation concurrency, land use and mobility strategies must be adopted by the local government within two years.

BIG PROJECTS (DRIs)

In addition, the Act also allows projects in those municipalities and counties that meet the definition of a "dense urban land area" to be exempt from Development of Regional Impact review (DRI). If your project has already been approved as a DRI, you may be eligible to rescind your development order with local government approval. It may be in your best interest to consider rescinding that DRI development order pursuant to the exemption permitted to those counties and municipalities that meet the definition of a "dense urban land area." Now may be the time to review any anticipated plans for a development that would have otherwise required development of regional impact approval. Mediation (or a similar process) has become mandatory for disputes involving regional planning and growth management issues when voluntary settlement meetings have failed.

Local governments are still reviewing the Act to determine how they will treat the aforementioned development incentives and exceptions. The processes to accomplish these incentives and exceptions are not set in stone and you may need assistance with their navigation. Nonetheless, the Community Renewal Act is structured to jumpstart the economy within the State of Florida, and is something that may help you whether you are planning to develop or already have an approved project with limited funds to complete the project at this time.