Under Section 252.363, Florida Statutes, qualifying permitees are entitled to extensions following a declared State of Emergency for the amount of time the declaration was in effect, plus an additional six (6) months.

In order to obtain such an extension under this statute, permitees are required to submit a written notification to the appropriate authorizing agency (i.e., City, County, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), or Water Management District) within 90 days after the State of Emergency has expired.

Types of Permits that Qualify

The following types of permits are entitled to an extension under the statute:

  • Development orders issued by a local government;
  • Building permits;
  • Permits issued by the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district pursuant to part IV of chapter 373, Florida Statutes;
  • Buildout dates of a development of regional impact (“DRI”), including any extension of a buildout date that was previously granted pursuant to section 380.06(19)(c), Florida Statutes; and
  • Commencement and completion dates for required mitigation in phased developments

Lake Okeechobee Algae Blooms State of Emergency (E.O. 16-155 & E.O. 16-156)

As I explained in a recent blog post, on June 29, 2016 the Governor originally issued Executive Order Number 16-155 in response to an increased number of local algae blooms from Lake Okeechobee discharges and declared a 60 day State of Emergency throughout Martin and St. Lucie Counties. Thereafter, on June 30, 2016, the Governor reaffirmed and ratified his earlier declaration by issuing Executive Order Number 16-156 to expand the State of Emergency for Lake Okeechobee Algae Blooms to include Palm Beach and Lee Counties.

Thus, following Executive Order Numbers 16-155 and 16-156, permitees in the qualifying counties were entitled to a 60 day and six (6) month extension to their permits so long as a written notification was submitted to the appropriate authorizing agency before the State of Emergency’s expiration on August 29, 2016.

Executive Order Number 16-204 Extends the Lake Okeechobee Algae Blooms State of Emergency Another 60 Days

On August 29, 2016, the very same day the Lake Okeechobee Algae Blooms State of Emergency was to expire, the Governor issued Executive Order Number 16-204 to toll the emergency declaration another 60 days. Accordingly, after the issuance of Executive Order Number 16-204, the Lake Okeechobee Algae Blooms State of Emergency is in effect for a total of 120 days.

Therefore, unless further action is taken by the Governor before October 28, 2016, qualifying permits in Lee County are cumulatively entitled to a 120 day and six (6) month statutory extension under Executive Order Number 16-155 (as amended by E.O. 16-156 and E.O. 16-204).

It is important to emphasize that, given the 90 day time limitation described above, permitees can only obtain this extension by submitting written notification to the appropriate authorizing agencies after October 28, 2016, but before January 26, 2017.

State of Emergency Declared for Hermine Does Not Apply to Development Approvals in Lee County

It should also be noted that on August 31, 2016, the Governor issued Executive Order Number 16-205, declaring a new 60 day State of Emergency for what was referred to at the time as Tropical Depression #9. The emergency declaration was limited to Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Calhoun, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Orange, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Volusia, and Wakulla Counties. Then, just hours later that same day, the Governor also issued Executive Order Number 16-206 to reflect the updated forecast of Tropical Depression #9 to Tropical Storm Hermine and expand the scope of the initial emergency declaration to include Escambia, Holmes, Manatee, Okaloosa, Osceola, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Walton, and Washington Counties.

Thus, while the State of Emergency that was declared for Hermine by Executive Order Number 16-205 (as expanded by E.O. 16-206) is not applicable to projects in Lee County, certain qualifying permits in the counties referenced above will be entitled to a 60 day and six (6) month extension.

So What’s the Legal Scoop?

While these statutory permit extensions are not discretionary and have been routinely issued by local authorizing agencies, time is of the essence when determining eligibility. As such, permitees in Lee County who act diligently under the Lake Okeechobee Algae Blooms State of Emergency will have the opportunity to extend their projects for a total of 120 days and six (6) months. Likewise, under the State of Emergency for Hermine, qualifying permitees in the above-mentioned counties will be entitled to extend their permits for a total of 60 days and six (6) months.

If you are a property owner in Southwest Florida and would like to discuss your property’s eligibility for an extension under Section 252.363, Florida Statutes, please contact me at austin.turner@henlaw.com or 239- 344-1178.