Third Quarter 2006

Florida Legislative Update: 2006 Florida Legislative Report

Holland & Knight Newsletter
Lawrence N. Curtin | Lawrence E. Sellers

The Florida Legislature concluded its Regular Session for 2006 in early May. During the 60-day session, the Legislature considered a number of environmental and land use measures. The following are a few measures that passed:

Affordable Housing
HB 1363 makes changes to Florida’s affordable housing program and addresses several related land use issues. Among other things, the bill provides incentives for the development of affordable workforce housing by increasing the thresholds for determining whether further review is required, and by authorizing local governments to allow a density bonus to any landowner who voluntarily donates real property for the purpose of assisting in the provision of affordable housing. The bill also requires each local government to prepare an inventory of all real property it holds that is appropriate for use as affordable housing.

Agricultural Economic Development
HB 1015 defines an agricultural enclave and authorizes the owners of enclaves to apply for a comprehensive plan amendment that includes land uses and intensities of use consistent with those of surrounding industrial, commercial or residential uses.

HB 7131 makes various changes to the Brownfield Redevelopment Act. Among other things, the bill increases the percentage and amount of the tax credit that is available to entities for the voluntary cleanup of contamination of brownfield sites.

Development Permits/Denial
SB 1112 requires a local government to provide an applicant with written notice of the denial of an application for a development permit. The notice must include a citation to the applicable portion of an ordinance, rule, statute or other legal authority for the denial of the permit.

DRI Reform
HB 683 makes a number of changes to the laws governing developments of regional impact. Among other things, the bill creates five new exemptions from DRI review, increases the percentage and unit thresholds for substantial deviations, and provides new incentive for the development of affordable work place housing.

Electrical Substation Siting
SB 980 creates a uniform, statewide process for the siting of electric substations subject to local government standards. The bill streamlines the process for siting an electrical substation by providing that new substations are a permittable land use in all land use categories and zoning districts.

Eminent Domain
HB 1567 addresses concerns over the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London. In that case, the Court found that the taking of private property for the purpose of economic development does not violate the U.S. Constitution. The Court also recognized that states are free to place further restrictions on the exercise of their takings powers. Like many other states, Florida has responded by enacting a measure that imposes limitations on the use of its eminent domain law. In particular, the bill limits the public purposes for which private property may be taken, and expressly provides that private property may not be taken by eminent domain to eliminate slum or blight conditions or for the purpose of eliminating or abating a public nuisance.

SB 888 seeks to establish a framework for the energy future of Florida. The bill provides for the development of renewable energy technologies, diversity of fuel supply, the siting of nuclear power plants, and the streamlining of the Power Plant Siting and Transmission Line Siting Acts. The bill also creates the Florida Energy Commission, and it requires DEP to report on the state’s progress in energy conservation and efficiency.

Impact Fees
SB 1194 codifies certain provisions relating to the imposition of impact fees by local governments. A local ordinance levying an impact fee must, at a minimum: require that the calculation of the impact fee be based on the most recent and localized data, provide for accounting and reporting of impact fee collections and expenditures, limit administrative charges for the collection of impact fees to actual costs, and require that notice be provided at least 90 days before the effective date of the new or amended impact fee. The bill also requires that audits of financial statements of local governments of school districts include an affidavit signed by the chief financial officer stating that the entity has complied with applicable requirements relating to impact fee ordinances.

Northwest ERP
HB 7163 eliminates the exemption from and provides a phased approach for implementation of environmental resource permitting (ERP) in Northwest Florida.

Sunset/Government Accountability Act
HB 1123 creates the Florida Government Accountability Act and authorizes the establishment of a Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee to review state agencies and advisory committees pursuant to a schedule. Significantly, the Department of Environmental Protection, the five water management districts and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are scheduled for review during the first year (2008), and the Department of Community Affairs is scheduled for review in the second year (2009).

In our next newsletter, we will summarize some of the bills that died in 2006 but likely will be considered again in 2007.

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