By:  Emily G. Pierce

On April 6th, the Governor signed into law House Bill 1151, a 167 page bill which, among other things, eliminated Florida Quality Developments (“FQDs”) under Section 380.061, Florida Statutes and dramatically changed Section 380.06, Florida Statutes, governing Developments of Regional Impact (“DRIs”).  HB 1151 requires all existing FQDs to be converted into DRIs and to, thereafter, follow the procedures and requirements for DRIs.   

With respect to DRIs, HB 1151 eliminates state and regional review of existing DRIs, revises and simplifies the thresholds used to determine whether a development is deemed to be a DRI, and deletes the provisions governing “Substantial Deviations.”  As revised, a development that is below 100 percent of the numerical thresholds in the statewide guidelines as set forth in Section 380.0651, Florida Statutes, is not subject to DRI review; a development that is at or above 100 percent is subject to review. 

Prior to HB 1151, developers within a DRI were required to undergo an analysis of any proposed change to determine whether the change would result in a “Substantial Deviation” (requiring a full review at the state level), a “Notice of Proposed Change” (requiring local and regional review) or a non-substantial or “minor” change (often times referred to as an (e)2 change because the provisions governing it were found in Section 380.06(19)(e)2.a. through m.).  Section 380.06(19) has been renumbered to 380.06(7) and has been renamed “Changes.”  Now, all “Changes” to previously approved DRIs, and previously approved FQDs that are converted into DRIs, are to be reviewed by the local government based upon the standards and procedures in its adopted local comprehensive plan and adopted local land development regulations, including procedures for notice to the applicant and public.  The statute simply specifies that any proposed change must be considered at least one public hearing prior to becoming effective.

The changes to Section 380.06, Florida Statutes, have largely removed the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the regional planning councils from the DRI review and approval process and have left local governments scrambling to determine what processes are already in place to review new and existing DRIs and what processes will need to be adopted.