Florida Overhauls Environmental Permitting Laws

People in the Florida real estate development and investment community know that environmental permitting laws can amount to bureaucratic quagmires, and be used by local government leaders as …

People in the Florida real estate development and investment community know that environmental permitting laws can amount to bureaucratic quagmires, and be used by local government leaders as tools to drive personal agendas, but those days may be coming to a close with the imminent passage of HB503. The measure is designed to overhaul the last 25 years of environmental regulation, and the particulars of the reform have been endorsed by environmentalists as well as Republicans and Democrats. The news of its passage is turning heads in the real estate business as many expect an increase in development and transaction volume. For more on this continue reading the following article from JDSupra.

While everyone waits for Florida Governor Rick Scott to sign HB503 into law, and it’s expected that Scott will do so – no veto here – Florida real estate developers and those who work with land development are becoming more and more excited about this new law.  (See our last post for full coverage of the bill itself, including the Florida Legislature’s Bill Summary.)

What’s the big deal about HB503?

Originating with Panama City Representative in the Florida House Jimmy Patronis, HB503 does a fruit basket turnover of Florida’s environmental permitting laws.  For some, this bill is just one more example of the current Tallahassee trend of overhauling state regulations and throwing a lot of longstanding laws out (for more on that, check out my short ebook on last year’s Florida Community  Planning Act).

Last year’s CPA booted 25 years of land reform laws out the window.  Many are already crediting Tallahassee legislative housecleaning with an increase in state real estate development and land investment.  Things are looking better now, we’re getting to be cautiously optimistic about Florida’s future, and HB503 coattails on this statehouse activity by impacting things like water management districts in a good way.  

Lots of people anticipate good things to come from HB503.

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For example, the solid waste management industry is happy with HB503 because it will help them, doing things like uping from 10 to 20 years the terms of permit extension of solid waste management facilities with leachate collection systems.  (Facilities without leachate collection systems also see their terms double, from 5 to 10 years.)

Everyone in the Florida House was happy with HB503, since in passed by unanimous vote back in February with Patrois explaining that the new law is just "common sense." Democrats and Republicans both thought HB503 was a smart move. 

Environmentalists dropped their opposition to the bill after HB503 was amended to address their concerns. 

The news media reports that HB503 acts to effectively clean up the environmental permitting process, doing several things like stopping local government honchos from forcing developers to have some sort of state permit before they can get a local development permit. (Big help for real estate development here in Florida.) 

HB503 also is being reported as gutting the need for approval from a government agency before building small stormwater projects.  Good for development, again. 

The bill is also getting news coverage for its establishing new, longer deadlines for some kinds of environmental resource permits.  Again, nice for development efficiency. 

Of course, not everyone is happy about HB503: Environmental Activists Ask Governor Scott to Veto HB503

Right now, there is an online petition that seeks support for Governor Rick Scott to veto HB503 because they are arguing that the new law acting together with SB716 would kill the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve Act and they are concerned that the movement of raw sewage from Miami Beach to the Viriginia Key Waste Water Treatment Plant will harm Biscayne Bay and its beaches. 

Don’t count on Governor Scott to veto HB503. 

This article was republished with permission from JDSupra.


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