September 18, 2012

Permit and Development Order Extension Opportunities in Florida

Holland & Knight Alert
Tracy R. Slavens

Two permit and development order extension opportunities are currently available as a result of the threats posed to Florida by recent tropical storm activity. Together, these extensions could mean a total of 16 to 17 months, depending on where your project is located, to complete work under certain permits.

Section 252.363, Florida Statutes, provides for the tolling of valid permits and other authorizations during the declaration of a state of emergency and an extension of an additional six months following the tolled period. The tolling and extension provisions apply to the expiration of: (1) development orders issued by a local government; (2) building permits; (3) Department of Environmental Protection or water management district permits issued pursuant to part IV of Chapter 373, Florida Statutes; and (4) buildout dates for developments of regional impact, including any extension of a buildout date that was previously granted pursuant to Section 380.06(19)(c), Florida Statutes.

Two Tropical Storms

Governor Rick Scott declared two states of emergency for the State of Florida during the past few months. The first was in connection with Tropical Storm Debby in June and the second was for Tropical Storm Isaac in August. Pursuant to Section 252.363, Florida Statutes, each of these declarations of states of emergency tolled the period remaining to exercise rights under a permit, development order or other authorization for 60 days and provides an extension of six months following the tolled period.

  • Executive Order No. 12-140 declared a state of emergency for the State of Florida due to the severe threat posed by Tropical Storm Debby. This state of emergency was effective as of June 25, 2012 and expired 60 days later, on August 24, 2012. On August 20, 2012 the state of emergency was extended for 30 days pursuant to Executive Order No. 12-192 for Baker, Bradford, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Franklin, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lee, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Manatee, Nassau, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Suwannee, Taylor, Union and Wakulla Counties. As a result, the state of emergency applies to these counties until September 19, 2012.
  • Executive Order No. 12-199 declared a state of emergency for the State of Florida due to the severe threat posed by Tropical Storm Isaac. This state of emergency was effective as on August 25, 2012 and will expire in 60 days, on October 24, 2012, unless extended.

This extension option only applies to the geographic areas identified in the given declaration of a state of emergency. Executive Order Nos. 12-140 and 12-199 both applied to the entire state of Florida and the extension of the Tropical Storm Debby state of emergency applied only to the counties listed above. 

Extension Option Deadlines

To take advantage of these extension options, it is important to act quickly. Permit holders must notify the issuing authority of their intent to do so in writing within 90 days of the termination of the emergency declaration.

The deadline for an extension under Executive Order No. 12-140 for the counties not affected by the additional extension is November 22, 2012. However, if a permit is for development within one of the counties eligible for the extension of the Tropical Storm Debby state of emergency, the deadline to provide notice is December 18, 2012.

The deadline for an extension under Executive Order No. 12-199 is January 22, 2013. Please note that the state of emergency extensions may not overlap, and it is recommended that permit holders in those counties send notification of the Tropical Storm Debby extension separately from notification for the Tropical Storm Isaac extension.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Community Planning Staff has advised that extension notifications should be submitted following the expiration of the state of emergency, i.e., after August 24, 2012, for the counties affected by Tropical Storm Debby not part of the state of emergency extension, after September 19, 2012 for the counties under which the Tropical Storm Debby state of emergency was extended, and after October 24, 2012 for the Tropical Storm Isaac state of emergency. In addition, while the state statute cited above authorizes these extensions, some local governments act differently and may require further process to recognize the extensions for local permits. It may be advisable to consult with the applicable local government or permitting authority to discuss the timing and process for filing the required notice.

The Florida Legislature also recently provided another opportunity to qualify for the additional two-year permit extension enacted in 2011. Any building permit and any Environmental Resources Permit with an expiration date from January 1, 2012 through January 1, 2014 is extended and renewed for a period of two years after its previously scheduled date of expiration. The holder of the permit or other authorization that is eligible for the two-year extension must notify the authorizing agency in writing by December 31, 2012 (the prior deadline was December 31, 2011), identifying the specific authorization for which the holder intends to use the extension and the anticipated timeframe for acting on the authorization. For additional information, please refer to Section 24 of Laws of Florida Ch. 2012-205:

What This Means for Developers

Because these extensions are available only upon written notice by the indicated dates, permit holders should review their existing permits and agreements promptly to determine whether they are eligible. Lenders for ongoing development projects may wish to confirm that their borrowers are taking the necessary steps to avail themselves of these extensions as well.

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