By:  Emily G. Pierce

Pursuant to Chapter 2017-149 Laws of Florida, the Florida Legislature adopted numerous changes to the Florida Building Code.  Included within the changes is the addition of subsection 20 to Section 553.79, Florida Statutes.  The new subsection prohibits cities and counties from adopting or enforcing any ordinance, building permit, or development order requirement which contains any building, construction or aesthetic condition that conflicts with a fuel company’s logos, color patterns, “or other features of corporate branding identity.”  Additionally, subsection 20 prohibits cities and counties from imposing design, construction or location requirements related to signage which advertises the retail price of gasoline and which would prevent the signage from being seen by drivers approaching the station from a road abutting the station.  The new subsection takes effect on July 1, 2017.

The new subsection states:

(20)(a)  A political subdivision of this state [a city or county] may not adopt or enforce any ordinance or impose any building permit or other development order requirement that:

  1. Contains any building, construction, or aesthetic requirement or condition that conflicts with or impairs corporate trademarks, service marks, trade dress, logos, color patterns, design scheme insignia, image standards, or other features of corporate branding identity on real property or improvements thereon used in activities conducted under chapter 526 [sale of liquid fuels/gasoline] or in carrying out business activities defined as a franchise by Federal Trade Commission regulations in 16 C.F.R. ss. 436.1, et. seq.; or
  2. Imposes any requirement on the design, construction or location of signage advertising the retail price of gasoline in accordance with the requirements of ss. 526.111 [related to size of fractions and inclusion of tax] and 526.121 [pricing restrictions between pumps] which prevents the signage from being clearly visible and legible to drivers of approaching motor vehicles from a vantage point on any lane of traffic in either direction on a roadway abutting the gas station premises and meets height, width, and spacing standards for Series C, D, or E signs, as applicable, published in the latest edition of the Standard Alphabets for Highway Signs published by the United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Public Roads, Office of Highway Safety [federal regulations governing roadway signs for readability].

(b)  This subsection does not affect any requirement for design and construction in the Florida Building Code.

(c)  All such ordinances and requirements are hereby preempted and superseded by general law.  This subsection shall apply retroactively.

(d)  This subsection does not apply to property located in a designated historic district.

(Emphasis and comments added.)

It is unclear at this time exactly how this new subsection will impact local zoning codes and land development regulations.  However, local governments are very concerned about the broad language used in the statute and the preemption of local control.