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Spring 2013
d&G Lawyer News

  • What Is The Florida Land Use and Environmental Dispute Resolution Act?
  • By: Vivian Arenas-Battles

    If your application for a development order is denied by a local government, the “Florida Land Use and Environmental Dispute Resolution Act,” (the “Act”) may be an option for you. The Act is available to owners who have been denied development orders, re-zonings, variances, and permits, have enforcement actions, or have been granted permits with unacceptable permit conditions issued on or after October 1, 1995. The Act does not apply to actions related to comprehensive plan amendments or to wetland delineation reports advising of possible violations.

    The Act is voluntary. Any owner who believes that a development order or enforcement action is unreasonable or unfairly burdens the use of the property may request relief within 30 days of the receipt of the notice of action or order. Once a request is received, the governmental entity and the affected party will select a mutually agreeable special magistrate. The special magistrate will hold an informal hearing within 45 days after receipt of the request for relief. During the hearing, the special magistrate will attempt to resolve the conflict between the parties. A resolution may involve modifying the owner’s proposed use of the property or adjusting the development order or enforcement action. If an acceptable solution is not reached by the parties, the special magistrate considers the facts and circumstances in the request for relief and any responses or other information produced at the hearing in order to determine whether the action by the governmental entity or entities is unreasonable or unfairly burdens the property. * The special magistrate then files a recommended order within 14 days after the hearing.

    There are practical considerations for someone contemplating use of this process. The owner must exhaust all non-judicial local government appeals (if the appeals take no longer than 4 months) before initiating a proceeding under the Act. ** Also, a request for relief tolls the time for seeking judicial review of the local government action until the recommended order is acted upon by the local government, state, or regional agency. *** This alternative resolution process is probably most successful where parties may not have had an opportunity to get together and discuss settlement options before the local government action was taken. It is probably less desirable when parties have taken firm positions and have no desire to spend additional time or resources trying to reach a compromise.

    If you have any questions, please contact Vivian Arenas-Battles at (813) 229-2775.

    * §70.51(17)(b), Fla. Stat.
    ** §70.51(10)(a), Fla. Stat.
    *** §70.51(10)(a) and (b), Fla. Stat.
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