During the 2017 state legislative session (which as of June 7 is in special session), House Bill 1021 was introduced, passed and is awaiting signature into law by the Governor. Among the Florida building codes and standards addressed in the Bill, a late introduced amendment specifically impacts municipalities. The amendment, a preemption to Home Rule, specifically states that a:
"...political subdivisions of the state may not adopt or enforce ordinances, or impose building permits or other development order requirements that:
Contain any building, construction, or aesthetic requirement or condition that conflicts with or impairs corporate trademarks, service marks, trade dress, logos, color patterns, design scheme insignia, image standards, or other features of corporate branding identity on real property or improvements thereon used in activities conducted under ch. 526, related to the sale of liquid fuels, or in carrying out business franchise activities, as defined by Federal Trade Commission regulations in 16 C.F.R. ss. 436.1, et. Seq.;
...Additionally, the bill specifies that all local ordinances and requirements prohibited by s. 553.79(20), F.S., are preempted and superseded and that s. 553.79(20), F.S., shall apply retroactively.
Why is HB 1021 of interest?
In Gulfport, we have had preliminary discussions on potentially addressing a zoning ordinance pertaining to formula (chain) stores. Formula stores often operate under the franchise model. Since HB 1021 includes language on franchises and preempts a city's ability to adopt an ordinance that "impairs carrying out business franchise activities," Gulfport must get a clear and legal interpretation on the scope of the preemption. We must understand if the Bill is limited to only impairing franchise "branding" standards, or does is also prohibit a city from restricting formula (chain) stores to specific zoning locations.
I have reached out the Bill's sponsor and his legislative staff to understand his intent with the Bill. I have also reached out to the Florida League of Cities that works hard to track Bills that impact cities like Gulfport. However, and more importantly, our City Attorney is seeking the legal interpretation that will guide our next steps regarding a potential formula (chain) store zoning ordinance in Gulfport.
If it is determined that HB 1021 does not extend to a zoning ordinance, we will proceed with the City Council Workshop we have discussed at City Council. However, there a more unanswered questions than not, as well as no clear definitions on items and terms contained in HB 1021. We will simply wait until more is known.