Florida bill pushes to approve permits faster

Posted at 6:51 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 19:06:04-04

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — Before the pandemic, Peter Ide, owner of Vantage Home said a home would usually take him about seven or eight months to complete. While he’s not far behind, he says that’s not the case across the state. In some cases the permitting process is just dragging on and on.

He said now is an especially hard time, because builders like himself are facing other obstacles that are slowing down the process as well.

“Difficulties with windows, cabinets, the list just goes on and on,” he said.

Ide says because of supply shortages, the Charlotte County home he’s working on is taking him 10 months to build. That’s good timing compared to what other counties are dealing with waiting on permits.

House Bill 1059 passed in the Florida House earlier this month. Now, it’s up to Florida Senators to make it a law. Philip Ford with the Lee Building Industry Association said it would enhance the current state law that requires permitting agencies to approve permit applications within 30 days.

“The main change is there will be a penalty that governments will be subject to if they don’t issue permits within 30 days,” he said.

He said this bill would penalize agencies by dropping permit fees by 10 percent for everyday they’re late on approving a permit.

Ford said the Lee County Building and Permitting Department usually approves permits within that time frame. But, the pandemic has slowed down their process to about 50 days instead. He says they’re trying.

“They’ve been working overtime. They’re doing a lot of things to try to keep up, and get things back to a normal - more normal time period,” he said.

The Charlotte County Community Development Director, Ben Bailey said, if passed, the bill wouldn’t really affect the county. Depending on staffing, he said they approve permits within 2 days or so.

Ide says the bill could give other counties a push who aren’t doing what Lee or Charlotte are doing.

“It’s putting pressure on the counties. I’m sure it’s not something that they’re doing deliberately. It will definitely help builders,” he said. “If we can get started quicker, hopefully we can finish quicker.”

Ford said most contractors would take the permit over the discount.

“While it’s good to have teeth in this bill, I can tell you most builders would go, ‘I’d rather have my permit,” he said.

That bill would also require contractors to submit permit applications online. charlotte county started doing that last year and lee county will start doing that on Monday. If passed, the law will go into effect in October.