Section 373.421, Florida Statutes 2006
373.421 Delineation methods; formal determinations.--
(1) The Environmental Regulation Commission shall adopt a unified statewide methodology for the delineation of the extent of wetlands as defined in s. 373.019(25). This methodology shall consider regional differences in the types of soils and vegetation that may serve as indicators of the extent of wetlands. This methodology shall also include provisions for determining the extent of surface waters other than wetlands for the purposes of regulation under s. 373.414. This methodology shall not become effective until ratified by the Legislature. Subsequent to legislative ratification, the wetland definition in s. 373.019(25) and the adopted wetland methodology shall be binding on the department, the water management districts, local governments, and any other governmental entities. Upon ratification of such wetland methodology, the Legislature preempts the authority of any water management district, state or regional agency, or local government to define wetlands or develop a delineation methodology to implement the definition and determines that the exclusive definition and delineation methodology for wetlands shall be that established pursuant to s. 373.019(25) and this section. Upon such legislative ratification, any existing wetlands definition or wetland delineation methodology shall be superseded by the wetland definition and delineation methodology established pursuant to this chapter. Subsequent to legislative ratification, a delineation of the extent of a surface water or wetland by the department or a water management district, pursuant to a formal determination under subsection (2), or pursuant to a permit issued under this part in which the delineation was field-verified by the permitting agency and specifically approved in the permit, shall be binding on all other governmental entities for the duration of the
formal determination or permit. All existing rules and methodologies of the department, the water management districts, and local governments, regarding surface water or wetland definition and delineation shall remain in full force and effect until the common methodology rule becomes effective. However, this shall not be construed to limit any power of the department, the water management districts, and local governments to amend or adopt a surface water or wetland definition or delineation methodology until the common methodology rule becomes effective.
(2) A water management district or the department may provide a process by rule for formal determinations of the extent of surface waters and wetlands, as delineated in subsection (1). By interagency agreement, the department and each water management district shall determine which agency shall implement the determination process within the district. If a rule is adopted, a property owner, an entity that has the power of eminent domain, or any other person who has a legal or equitable interest in property may petition the district for a formal determination. In such rule, the governing board or the department shall specify information which must be provided and may require authorization to enter upon the property. The rule shall also establish procedures for issuing a formal determination. The governing board may authorize its executive director to issue formal determinations. The governing board must by rule prescribe the circumstances in which its executive director may issue such determinations. The governing board or the department may require a fee to cover the costs of processing and acting upon the petition. That fee must be established by rule. A water management district or the department may publish, or require the petitioner to publish at the petitioner's expense, notice of the intended agency action on the petition for a formal determination in a newspaper of general circulation within the affected area. Within 60 days prior to the expiration of a formal determination, the property owner, an entity that has the power of eminent domain, or any other person who has a legal or equitable interest in the property may petition for a new formal determination for the same parcel of property and such determination shall be issued, approving the same extent of surface waters and wetlands in the previous formal determination, as long as physical conditions on the property have not changed, other than changes which have been authorized by a permit pursuant to this part, so as to alter the
boundaries of surface waters or wetlands and the methodology for determining the extent of surface waters and wetlands authorized by subsection (1) has not been amended since the previous formal determination. The application fee for such a subsequent petition shall be less than the application fee for the original determination.
(3) A formal determination is binding for a period not to exceed 5 years as long as physical conditions on the property do not change, other than changes which have been authorized by a permit pursuant to this part, so as to alter the boundaries of surface waters or wetlands, as delineated in subsection (1).
(4) The governing board or the department may revoke a formal determination if it finds that the petitioner has submitted inaccurate information to the district.
(5) A formal determination obtained under this section is final agency action and is in lieu of a declaratory statement of jurisdiction obtainable under s. 120.565. Sections 120.569 and 120.57 apply to formal determinations under this section.
(6) The district or the department may also issue nonbinding informal determinations or otherwise institute determinations on its own initiative as provided by law. A nonbinding informal determination of the extent of surface waters and wetlands issued by the South Florida Water Management District or the Southwest Florida Water Management District, between July 1, 1989, and the effective date of the methodology ratified in s. 373.4211, shall be validated by the district if a petition to validate the nonbinding informal determination is filed with the district on or before October 1, 1994, provided:
(a) The petitioner submits the documentation prepared by the agency, and signed by an agency employee in the course of the employee's official duties, at the time the nonbinding informal determination was issued, showing the boundary of the surface waters or wetlands;
(b) The request is accompanied by the appropriate fee in accordance with the fee schedule established by district rule;
(c) Any supplemental information, such as aerial photographs and soils maps, is provided as necessary to ensure an accurate determination;
(d) District staff verify the delineated surface water or wetland boundary through site inspection; and
(e) Following district verification, and adjustment if necessary, of the boundary of surface waters or wetlands, the petitioner submits a survey certified pursuant to chapter 472, which depicts the surface water or wetland boundaries. The certified survey shall contain a legal description of, and the acreage contained within, the boundaries of the property for which the determination is sought. The boundaries must be witnessed to the property boundaries and must be capable of being mathematically reproduced from the survey.
Validated informal nonbinding determinations issued by the South Florida Water Management District and the Southwest Florida Water Management District shall remain valid for a period of 5 years from the date of validation by the district, as long as physical conditions on the property do not change so as to alter the boundaries of surface waters or wetlands. A validation obtained under this section is final agency action. Sections 120.569 and 120.57 apply to validations under this section.
(7)(a) This subsection is intended to restore qualified developments to their pre-Henderson Wetland Protection Act status for contiguous wetlands. This provision will therefore streamline state wetland permitting without loss of wetland protection by other governmental entities.
(b) Wetlands contiguous to surface waters of the state as defined in s. 403.031(13), Florida Statutes (1991), shall be delineated pursuant to the department's rules as such rules existed prior to January 24, 1984, while wetlands not contiguous to surface waters of the state as defined in s. 403.031(13), Florida Statutes (1991), shall be delineated pursuant to the applicable methodology ratified by s. 373.4211 for any development which obtains an individual permit from the United States Army Corps of Engineers under 33 U.S.C. s. 1344:
1. Where a jurisdictional determination validated by the department pursuant to rule 17-301.400(8), Florida Administrative Code, as it existed in rule 17-4.022, Florida Administrative Code, on April 1, 1985, is revalidated pursuant to s. 373.414(13) and the affected lands are part of a project for which a vested rights determination has been issued pursuant to s. 380.06, or
2. Where the lands affected were grandfathered pursuant to s. 403.913(6), Florida Statutes (1991), and proof of prior notification pursuant to s. 403.913(6), Florida Statutes (1991), is submitted to the department within 180 days of the publication of a notice by the department of the existence of this provision. Failure to timely submit the proof of prior notification to the department serves as a waiver of the benefits conferred by this subsection.
3. This subsection shall not be applicable to lands:
a. Within the geographical area to which an individual or general permit issued prior to June 1, 1994, under rules adopted pursuant to this part applies; or
b. Within the geographical area to which a conceptual permit issued prior to June 1, 1994, under rules adopted pursuant to this part applies if wetland delineations were identified and approved by the conceptual permit as set forth in s. 373.414(12)(b)1. or 2.; or
c. Where no development activity as defined in 1s. 380.01(1) or (2)(a)-(d) and (f) has occurred within the project boundaries since October 1, 1986; or
d. Of a project which is not in compliance with this part or the rules adopted pursuant to 2ss. 403.91-403.929, 1984 Supplement to the Florida Statutes 1983, as amended.
4. The wetland delineation methodology required in this subsection shall only apply within the geographical area of an individual permit issued by the United States Army Corps of Engineers under 33 U.S.C. s. 1344. The requirement to obtain such individual permit to secure the benefit of this subsection shall not apply to any activities exempt or not subject to regulation under 33 U.S.C. s. 1344.
5. Notwithstanding subsection (1), the wetland delineation methodology required in this subsection and any wetland delineation pursuant thereto, shall only apply to agency action under this part and shall not be binding on local governments except in their implementation of this part.
History.--s. 7, ch. 91-288; s. 31, ch. 93-213; ss. 6, 18, ch. 94-122; s. 100, ch. 96-410; s. 10, ch. 98-88; s. 170, ch. 99-13; s. 41, ch. 2006-1.
1Note.--Section 380.01 was transferred to s. 381.492 by the reviser in 1969; it was further redesignated as s. 381.0605 by s. 52, ch. 91-297.
2Note.--Sections 403.91-403.925 and 403.929 were repealed by s. 45, ch. 93-213, and s. 403.913, as amended by s. 46, ch. 93-213, was transferred to s. 403.939 and subsequently repealed by s. 18, ch. 95-145. The only section remaining within the cited range is s. 403.927.