March 24, 2020

Florida's State of Emergency to Manage COVID-19 Provides Opportunity to Extend Certain Permits

Holland & Knight Alert
Pedro Gassant | Juan J. Mayol Jr. | Lawrence E. Sellers | Janna P. Lhota

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-52 on March 9, 2020, declaring a state of emergency for all 67 counties in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The declaration of a state of emergency allows developers and other permit holders to toll and extend development orders, permits and other authorizations for the length of time the declaration is in effect plus six months.

Eligible Permits and Other Authorizations

Section 252.363, Florida Statutes, provides that upon the declaration of a state of emergency, permits and other authorizations are tolled for the duration of the declaration, and that they may be extended for an additional six months. The tolling and extension provisions apply to the expiration of:

  • development orders issued by a local government
  • building permits
  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection or water management district permits issued pursuant to Part IV of Chapter 373, Florida Statutes
  • buildout dates for developments of regional impact (DRI), including any extension of a buildout date that was previously granted pursuant to Section 380.06(19)(c), Florida Statutes

Application of Tolling and Extension Provisions

Recent revisions to Section 252.363, Florida Statutes, limit the tolling and extension provisions described above to "natural" emergencies. COVID-19 is the result of a virus that naturally occurs in nature, and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has confirmed that the provisions of Section 252.363 apply as a result of the issuance of Executive Order No. 20-52.

Notification for Tolling and Extension

The holder of the permit or other authorization must notify the issuing authority of the intent to exercise the tolling and extension. The notice must be in writing and must identify the specific permit or other authorization qualifying for extension. In addition, while the statute cited above authorizes these extensions, some local governments may require additional information to recognize the extensions for local permits. It is therefore advisable to consult with legal counsel to discuss the timing and process for filing the required notice.

Extension Requests Begin May 8, 2020

To take advantage of the extension, 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 declaration is currently scheduled to expire on May 8, 2020. Thus, permit holders must notify the issuing authority of their intent to toll and extend their permits or other authorizations between May 8 and Aug. 5, 2020. We note that these dates are subject to change depending on whether Gov. DeSantis amends the declaration. We are following the situation closely and can provide you with status updates.

Impact on Developers and Other Permit Holders

Because the tolling and extension is available only upon written notice by the indicated date, permit holders should review their existing permits and development orders promptly to determine whether they are eligible. Lenders for ongoing development projects also may wish to confirm that their borrowers are taking the necessary steps to avail themselves of these extensions. Here, the benefits of the declaration would allow permit holders to extend permits for an additional six months from May 8, 2020.

If you have any questions or would like assistance in reviewing any permits or authorizations for extensions, please contact one of the authors.

For more information about how the efforts to contain the virus are impacting businesses across the state, see Holland & Knight's alert, "What Florida Businesses Need to Know about the COVID-19 Response."

DISCLAIMER: Please note that the situation surrounding COVID-19 is evolving and that the subject matter discussed in these publications may change on a daily basis. Please contact the author or your responsible Holland & Knight lawyer for timely advice.

Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult competent legal counsel.

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