The final decision concerning Development Reviews and Permitting can be challenged.
If either the applicant or an interesting party who can establish legal standing do not agree with the final decision of the Development Review staff for a Type A review, they can file a petition to have the matter reconsidered.
Here is a description of the review process from the Leon County Attorney’s Office.
In VERY brief, the process is:
1. Development Review staff issues their opinion
2. Interested Parties including the Applicant can file an Intent to Petition to County decision. This means that the parties are “suing” the County. Parties do not sue each other. It is the County decision that is being challenged.
Here’s the Notice of Intent document.
The cost is $90 for the first applicant and then $30 thereafter for additional folks with the same intent. I do not know if this includes the actual filing of the petition or if filing the same intent notification means you are filing the same petition. This can matter if folks have differences of opinion about what issues to bring forward.
3. County appoints a Special Master (similar to an Administrative Judge)
4. The Special Master has the responsibility of determining who has standing and can continue with the petition process. The Special Master also determines all the facts of the matter (Findings of Facts) and makes a judgement as to whether the staff decision is or is not supported by the facts and at the application of appropriate law.
5. The parties with standing can continue and bring the issue to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC). The BCC decision can only be based on the findings of the Special Master.
6. The next step is Circuit Court.
The process of Special Master and hearing before the BCC are considered a quasi-judicial process. The hearing in front of the Special Master, though slightly less formal than a courtroom, is essentially run like a court case. The County Attorney’s office will represent the County staff in all hearings. Attorney’s are usually the representatives for the other parties also. If you do not have an attorney, you can ONLY represent your own interests, not those of anyone else possibly involved.
Expert witness, documents, etc. must be provided to all parties before the hearings. Documents, forms, filing, deadlines, etc. must be done exactly as required by law. Expert witnesses are often required if the parties wish to dispute the County staff’s interpretation and application of law.
Here are documents and links that will describe the petition process in detail as described by law. Sec. 10-7.414 and Sec. 10-7.415 of the Leon County code describe the process. The document below provides the code for the Type A review and the two seconds above for the petition process.
You can view the entire Leon County code on the Leon County web page:
Go to : Muncipal Codes
The Code of Laws, Chapter 10 Land Development Code is how all development is regulated. (Sec. 10 as referenced above).
Again, this is my interpretation of the process, in brief. I’m happy to make corrections if anyone wants to email me separately.