During the latest law-making session, Florida’s legislators authorized a means for landowners to seek extensions for certain state-regulated development permits, citing the struggling real estate market and likelihood that many permits may expire before market conditions improve. The Lee County Board of County Commissioners has taken note, and has a similar authorization for four-year local development approval extensions on its Tuesday, October 11 agenda.

The proposed resolution authorizes Department of Community Development Director Mary Gibbs to process requests to grant four-year extensions to expiration dates of:

  • Development Orders
  • Zoning Master Concept Plans, and
  • Concurrency Certificates

The approvals must have been issued between January 2, 2006 and August 9, 2011, and the holder of a valid permit that is eligible for the extension must notify the county in writing no later than February 29, 2012, identifying “the specific authorization(s) for which the holder intends to use the extension and the anticipated timeframe for acting on the authorization.”

If extended, the permits will be subject to the local development rules in effect at the time the county issued the permit, unless it can be demonstrated that those rules would create an immediate threat to public safety or health. Additionally, if a code violation exists on a property whose owner is seeking an extension under this provision, the violation must be abated prior to an extension approval.

Charles J. Basinait of Henderson Franklin’s Land Use and Environmental Law Division spearheaded this effort to seek consideration of these extension provisions. We are pleased to have been a part of this effort that will benefit many of our clients and other permit holders within the county.

On a final note, not all permits may be extended and other factors such as comprehensive plan, land development code and statutory changes may affect these approvals. A time extension may not be enough to preserve a project’s entitled development rights. Therefore, in addition to seeking time extensions, a comprehensive review of all project permits may be warranted to ensure that these entitlements are protected.