Section 252.363(1)(a), Florida Statutes, provides that certain qualifying permits and authorizations are eligible for an extension once certain States of Emergency are declared for the length of time the declaration is in effect plus an additional six (6) months. A written request for such an extension must be submitted to the authorizing governmental agency within ninety (90) days after the State of Emergency has expired. § 252.363(1)(b), Florida Statutes. Four types of permits and authorizations qualify for an extension under these circumstances:.

a development order issued by a local government, which includes a wide variety of local government approvals that permit development activities; a building permit; a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district pursuant to Part IV of chapter 373; and a Development of Regional Impact’s (DRI’s) build-out date.

Governmental agencies have no affirmative obligation to take action extending the foregoing permits and authorizations pursuant to § 252.363(1)(a), Florida Statutes. Rather, the extension occurs as a matter of law in response to a written notification of intent to exercise the tolling and extension granted by the Statute. Florida Op.Atty.Gen., 2012-13, April 25, 2012.

Since the Statute’s initial adoption in 2011, and until the 2019 amendment under Florida House Bill 7103, its tolling and extension provisions were applicable to certain permits or development orders for various States of Emergency, ranging from natural disasters, the Zika Virus (Executive Order No. 17-260), the Opioid Crisis (Executive Order No. 19-36), and algae blooms (Executive Order No. 18-311). Under the revised Statute, extensions of time are only available where the State of Emergency is issued for a “natural emergency.” Although the Statute itself does not define what constitutes a “natural emergency,” the staff analysis prepared in connection with the Bill defines a “natural emergency” as an emergency that “…is caused by natural events, including, without limitation, hurricane, storm, flood, severe wave action, drought, or earthquake.”