District actions regarding issuance or denial of a permit, petition or qualification for exemption, only become closed to future legal challenges if third parties have been properly notified and no third party objects within a specific period.
Noticing of Agency Action
Notification of third parties is provided through publication of certain information in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or counties where the proposed activities are to occur. Publication of notice informs third parties of their right to challenge the District’s action. If proper notice is provided by publication, third parties have a 21-day time limit in which to file a petition opposing the District’s action. A shorter 14-day time limit applies to District action regarding Environmental Resource Permits linked with an authorization to use Sovereign Submerged Lands.
If no notice to third parties is published, there is no time limit to a party’s right to challenge the District’s action.
The District does not publish a notice to third parties regarding final action on applications. If you want to ensure that the period of time in which a petition opposing the District’s action regarding your application is limited to the time frames stated above, you must publish, at your own expense, a notice in a newspaper of general circulation.
- Prepare a notice for publication in the newspaper. The District's sample noticing forms are located at the top, right-hand side of this page. You are responsible for ensuring that the form and the content of your notice comply with the applicable statutory provisions.
- Your notice must be published in accordance with Chapter 50, Florida Statutes.
- Select a newspaper that is appropriate considering the location of the activities proposed in your application, and contact the newspaper for further information regarding their procedures for publishing.
- You only need to publish the notice for one day.
- Obtain an "affidavit of publication" from the newspaper after your notice is published.
- Immediately upon receipt, send the ORIGINAL affidavit to the appropriate District office that issued the agency action for the File of Record. Please retain a copy of the affidavit for your records before mailing the original copy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do I have to do this noticing, and what is this notice for?
A. You do not have to do this noticing. You need to publish a notice if you want to ensure that a third party cannot challenge the District’s action on your permit, exemption or petition at some future date. If you choose not to publish, there is no time limit to a third party’s right to challenge the District’s action.
Q. What do I need to send to the newspaper?
A. The one page notice form entitled "Notice of Final Agency Action (or Proposed Agency Action) by The Southwest Florida Water Management District." You must fill in the blanks before sending it.
Q. Do I have to use the notice form, or can I make up my own form?
A. You do not have to use our form. However, your notice must contain all information that is in the form.
Q. Do I send the newspaper the whole form (one page) or just the top portion that has blanks?
A. Send the full page form which includes the NOTICE OF RIGHTS section on the bottom half.
Q. Do I type or print the information in the blanks or will the newspaper fill them in?
A. You are required to fill in the blanks on the form before sending it to the newspaper. Contact your selected newspaper for instructions on printing or typing the information in the blanks.
Q. Chapter 50, Florida Statutes, Legal and Official Advertisements, section “50.051 Proof of publication; form of uniform affidavit” has blanks in the text. Do I fill in these blanks and send that to the newspaper?
A. No. That section shows the affidavit the newspaper will send you. They will fill in the blanks.
Q. If someone objects, is my permit or exemption no good?
A. If you publish a notice and a third party files a request for administrative hearing within the allotted time, the matter is referred to an administrative hearing. While the case is pending, generally, you may not proceed with activities under the challenged agency action. When the hearing is complete, the administrative law judge’s (ALJ) recommendation is returned to the District, and the District will take final action on the ALJ’s recommendation. There is no time limit for a third party to object and file a request for administrative hearing if you do not publish a notice.
Q. How do I determine which Notice of Agency Action form to use for Exemptions?
A. Please match the subject line of your Exemption with the options below.
- Project Evaluation - Project Exempt ≡ Project Exempt
- Project Evaluation - Permit Not Required ≡ No Permit Required
- Project Evaluation - Short Form / Formal Modification Not Required ≡ No Permit Required
- Project Evaluation - Exemption Inquiry ≡ Permit Required
Q. I don’t understand what I should put in the blanks on the Notice form?
A. The items listed below state where to find or what to place in each field.
- The average daily gallons per day, project name, county name, section/township/range, application #, file #, petition # and/or permit # fields can all be found on your permit, exemption or denial document.
- # of Acres field ≡ the project acres.
- Rule or Statute reference field ≡ The rule and/or statute reference is at the top of page one in the reference line of the Exemption letter.
- Type of Project field ≡ Listed below are the possible activities types.
Environmental Resource and Petition for Formal Determination of Wetlands and Other Surface Waters Permits - The possible types of project activities are Agriculture, Commercial, Government, Industrial, Mining, Road Projects, Residential, Semi-Public or Water Quality Treatment.
Water Use - The possible types of water use activities are Agricultural, Industrial, Commercial, Public Supply, Recreation/Aesthetic or Mining/Dewatering.