2017 FASD Annual Conference Photos

Hurricane Matthew Lessons Learned

District prepared for near-miss storm

Several days prior to the predicted landfall of Hurricane Matthew, the District began pre-storm preparations by inspecting its 1,000 miles of canal rights-of-way and lowering canal water elevations in coordination with the South Florida Water Management District. The District then authorized residential communities to open their neighborhood discharge control structures in order to lower lake levels and provide additional on-site stormwater storage.

Several calls were received regarding high water levels within lakes after the authorization and some residential communities reported damage to their discharge control structure mechanisms during operation. Communities are reminded that it is important the District  knows who is responsible for the operation of the community’s control structure to ensure they are receiving important weather alerts and emergency instructions.

For more information on the District ‘s storm preparedness operations or to update the community’s contact information, visit http://www.lwdd.net/property-managers-hoa.

This article was originally published in the LWDD November Newsletter.

2016 FASD Annual Conference

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2015 FASD Legislative Forum

Emergency Rulemaking Regarding Public: Notification of Pollution Incidents

In the wake of two pollution incidents, a raw sewage spill into Tampa Bay in Pinellas County and the sinkhole at Mosaic Fertilizer’s New Wales facility in Polk County, Florida, Governor Rick Scott released a statement on Monday, September 26, 2016, directing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to issue an emergency rule amending requirements for public notification of pollution incidents. Later that day, the DEP released a Specific Finding of Immediate Danger to the Public Health, Safety or Welfare, which is a requisite step to promulgating an emergency rule under Chapter 120 of the Florida Statutes, and the DEP posted notice of the proposed emergency rule, which contains the full text of the rule. Under Chapter 120.54, Florida Statutes, an emergency rule may be effective for a maximum of 90 days, but the governor instructed DEP to concurrently conduct formal rulemaking to make the changes permanent, and stated that he intends to propose legislation during the next legislative session to amend the current notification law, which requires public notification only if pollution moves off-site in most circumstances.

As proposed, the emergency rule requires “any owner or operator of any installation who has knowledge of any pollution at such installation” to provide notice to the public and various public officials within 24 hours of “the occurrence of any incident at an installation resulting in pollution, or the discovery of pollution.” The emergency rule requires the owner or operator to provide written notice to the DEP, “the mayor, the chair of the county commission, or the comparable senior elected official representing the affected area,” the “city manager, the county administrator, or the comparable senior official representing the affected area,” and “the general public by providing notice to local broadcast television affiliates and a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the contamination.” In addition, within 48 hours of a pollution incident or the discovery of pollution, an owner or operator must notify, in writing, the same above parties “of any potentially affected areas beyond the property boundaries of the installation, and the potential risk to the public health, safety, or welfare.” If the pollution has “affected areas beyond the property boundaries of the installation,” the owner or operator of the facility must notify, in writing, the same people and entities listed above and the property owner of “any affected area.” Finally, failure to follow this rule’s requirements will subject the violator to penalties under § 403.161, Florida Statutes, which authorizes penalties in the form of damages to the state, misdemeanor or felony criminal charges, and fines up to $50,000 for each offense.

The emergency rule does not provide definitions for any of the terms it uses including “pollution” or “installation.” These terms can have broad interpretation, which could make the rule’s reach very problematic.  Section 403.031(7), Florida Statues defines “pollution” as “the presence in the outdoor atmosphere or waters of the state of any one or more substances or pollutants in quantities which are or may be potentially harmful or injurious to human health or welfare, animal or plant life, or property or which may unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of life or property, including outdoor recreation,” which is broad. This definition encompasses both a wide array of substances and small quantities of those substances that could potentially trigger the reporting requirements. The rule does not address retroactive application, either, to situations where pollution was previously discovered and notification may have been made to DEP.

It is important that affected clients and industries be involved in this rulemaking. We want to hear your concerns and how this rule could potentially affect your business or industry. We will continue to monitor this rulemaking as it develops. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions, concerns, or for further information.

Governor Scott’s full statement can be read here: http://www.flgov.com/2016/09/26/gov-scott-i-am-directing-immediate-change-to-public-notification-laws-following-pollution-incidents/

The full text of the DEP’s Specific Finding of Immediate Danger to the Public Health, Safety or Welfare can be read here: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/pollutionnotice/Specific-Finding-of-Immediate-Danger.pdf

The full text of the proposed emergency rule can be read here: https://www.flrules.org/gateway/ruleNo.asp?id=62ER16-1

The DEP has created a site to facilitate providing notice to the appropriate parties under this rule, it can be viewed here: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/pollutionnotice/

Rule No.: 62-4.161 can be read here: https://www.flrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?id=62-4.161

Contact Information:
West Palm Beach Office
Robert P. Diffenderfer Email: rdiffenderfer@llw-law.com
Phone: (561) 640-0820

Tallahassee Office
Lori E. H. Killinger

Email: lkillinger@llw-law.com
Phone: (850) 222-5702

Jacksonville Office
Wayne E. Flowers
Email: wflowers@llw-law.com
Phone: (904) 353-6410

Tampa Bay Office
Kevin S. Hennessy
Email: khennessy@llw-law.com
Phone: (941) 708-4040

Copyright © 2016 Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A.

Click here to view the original release.

2016 District of the Year – North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District

North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District was recognized as the 2016 District of the Year by the Florida Association of Special Districts at their June annual conference.

To learn about the award and other District recognition at the FASD conference, click  here or the link below to view our Special Edition of the All Hazards Quarterly newsletter.


Michelle Diffenderfer Named President of Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A.

Michelle DiffendererWest Palm Beach, Fla., December 17, 2014 – Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A. is pleased to announce that Michelle Diffenderfer has been named President of the firm, effective January 1, 2015. Michelle, the firm’s first female President, brings many years of experience in managerial and leadership roles both within the firm and in the community.

Michelle began her career with LLW as a law clerk in 1994, moving from associate to Shareholder in 1999. Michelle has served as Practice Group Leader for various Practice Groups within LLW, Chaired LLW’s Business Development Committee and was elected Executive Shareholder as a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. In addition to her leadership within the firm, Michelle maintains an active environmental practice, assisting landowners, businesses and governments with the various local, state and federal requirements for permitting land development and infrastructure projects.

“Michelle was elected President by her fellow shareholders, which reflects her exceptional contributions and dedication to the firm” said Ed Ratka, Chief Operating Officer of Lewis, Longman & Walker. “I’m confident that Michelle’s strong leadership will help keep LLW on our path of continued growth.”

Michelle added: “I am thrilled to step into this leadership role for our law firm. I have been blessed to be a part of LLW’s first 20 years and appreciate the numerous opportunities that my partners have given me to succeed. I look forward to paying that forward as our President.”

Michelle is a past Chair of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, the Florida Bar’s Environmental and Land Use Law Section, and Girls II Women. Michelle has also served in various leadership roles with the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy and Resources. Michelle received the Chamber’s ATHENA® Award in 2008 which honors individuals that have achieved professional excellence, actively served the community, and helped women reach their leadership potential. Michelle is in the current class of Leadership Florida and is a graduate of Leadership Palm Beach County. For more on Michelle please click here.

Michelle can be reached at (561) 640-0820 or mdiffenderfer@llw-law.com. For more information, please visit our website at www.llw-law.com.

For more than 20 years, the attorneys at Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A., have helped the individuals, businesses and governments that have shaped Florida’s future. We offer solutions to issues associated with complex local, state, and federal laws and regulations. We focus on the specific, technical and seemingly ever-changing areas of Environmental, Land Use and Governmental Law. The Lewis, Longman & Walker team is comprised of well-known and respected attorneys with the experience and skill to quickly resolve difficult legal challenges. We are committed to responding to clients’ needs promptly and economically and believe in building long-term attorney-client relationships based upon collaboration and solid performance.

Our offices are in Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and West Palm Beach. Wherever you are, we’re nearby.