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The Lee County Building and Industry Association has provided a recap of important updates worth noting if you are involved in construction and contracting in Lee County, Florida. These updates will impact the procedures and protocols that individuals and businesses must follow when submitting permit applications and seeking licensing.

Community Development Department Office Hours

The first update concerns the closure of the Community Development Department lobby each business day at 3 p.m. starting March 27, 2023. This will apply to both public access and incoming phone calls. In addition, the Community Development office will stop accepting customer walk-ins at 2:30 p.m. The changes are being implemented to allow staff more time to process and review applications submitted that day. It is important to note that electronic permit applications will continue to be accepted with no restrictions.

This change is due to the increase in in-person customer levels, which have risen almost 200% since Hurricane Ian, despite more than 90% of permits being submitted electronically. Before the hurricane, staff processed an average of 3,700 permit applications per month. These changes will remain in effect until permit applications decrease or additional staff is hired and trained.

LCEC Update

Another update worth noting is the recent LCEC meeting recap. During this meeting, issues related to delays associated with running electricity to developments and single lot projects were discussed. The highlight was that delays are affecting all aspects of LCEC business. While working to resolve these issues, they see delays continuing well into 2024.

It is advisable to get plans in as early as possible for large projects. Even if you are years away from starting a project, it would be good to let them know what you are planning so they can reach out to their suppliers. It is also recommended that you do development in phases instead of an entire project and try and start close to the front.

For single-lot projects, submitting the application as early as possible and paying the fee is essential. They are running about 27 days from municipality inspection to installation of the meter.

City of Cape Coral

Finally, the City of Cape Coral is moving to electronic permitting on Monday, March 20, 2023. Furthermore, effective immediately, the City will no longer renew or accept new applications for City licensing. Effective July 1, contractors must be licensed with the state to apply for certain permit types.

Licensing and Permitting

House Bill 735, The Pre-emption of Local Occupational Licensing, eliminates local government licensing for construction trades. Certain trades do not require a state license to apply for a permit. Contractors working in Cape Coral must have a City EnerGov Customer Self-Service account to apply for a trade permit to include Asphalt Coating and Sealing, Canvas Awnings, Concrete, Fence Erection, Insulation, Paver Block, Paving, Signs, etc. and must use the EnerGov Customer Self-Service (CSS) portal to apply for all permits.

The City of Cape Coral will no longer require or validate contractor insurance, worker’s compensation, or any previous City license requirement. Only the state license or certification will be verified, which will occur each time a permit application is made. If you are uncertain whether your trade requires a license, review Licensing/Certification Frequently Asked Questions on the City’s website. If you still have questions or concerns regarding your license or certification, email or call (239) 574-0430.

Bottom Line

Staying up-to-date with the latest updates regarding Lee County building and licensing matters is essential. By doing so, you can ensure that you comply with the latest protocols and procedures when seeking permits and licenses. These updates will also have a significant impact on those who are planning to undertake projects or developments in Lee County.

If you should need legal assistance navigating your project, please contact one of our land use attorneys.