The Florida Legislature recently adopted House Bill 7207 which drastically changes the landscape of Florida’s Growth Management procedures. The bill itself comprises 349 pages (the majority of which deals with matters unrelated to growth management) and the drastic changes it proposes are too numerous to cover in a blog entry. A sampling of some of the major provisions include:

  • Eliminates the state concurrency mandate relating to transportation, schools and parks (though local governments may retain their local concurrency requirements);
  • Increases certain development of regional impact (“DRI”) thresholds (including office and commercial uses) and eliminates other uses from DRI review (including motel/hotel and industrial uses);
  • Provides a four-year extension to commencement, phase, build-out and expiration dates of DRIs regardless of any prior extensions;
  • Grants a two-year permit extension to any permit that was eligible under Senate Bill 360 but ineligible under Senate Bill 1752;
  • Provides a new two-year extension for certain permits with expiration dates falling between January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2014;
  • Removes the limitation of only twice-per-year comprehensive plan amendment cycles;
  • Allows for expedited review of most comprehensive plan amendments, with some exceptions;
  • Adjusts standards of review for challenged amendments – if the Department of Community Affairs (“DCA”) challenges a local government’s in-compliance determination, the local government’s determination is presumptively correct; the DCA can only overcome this presumption by a preponderance of the evidence standard; and
  • If a third party challenges a local government’s in-compliance finding, DCA cannot intervene in the action, and the local government’s determination must be upheld if it satisfies the more relaxed fairly debatable standard.
Of course, this bill isn’t law just yet – the Governor has 15 days after presentation of the bill to take action (sign or veto). If he signs the bill, it becomes law upon his signature. If he takes no action, the bill would become law on July 5th. There is a lot more in this bill and its companion legislation of HB 7001– look for much more to come on this important piece of legislation!