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Florida Land Use Planning (1-FL-a)

In Florida, a developer should ensure the proposed project complies with the adopted land use plans and zoning regulations of the municipality or county in which the proposed project is located. Florida’s comprehensive land use planning program, authorized under the Fla. Stat. § 163.3167, delegates regulatory authority over land use planning to local governments. Fla. Stat. § 163.3161(2) The local government constitutes each and every one of Florida’s municipalities and counties. Fla. Stat. § 163.2514(1); Fla. Stat. § 163.3164(29).


The purpose of having a comprehensive land use plan in Florida is to “utilize and strengthen the existing role, processes, and powers of local governments in the establishment and implementation of comprehensive planning programs to guide and manage future development consistent with the proper role of local government.” Fla. Stat. § 163.3161(2). Specifically, the Florida Interlocal Cooperation Act of 1969 provides municipalities and counties with the authority and responsibility to “plan for their future development and growth; adopt and amend comprehensive plans, or elements or portion of the comprehensive plan, to guide their future development and growth; implement adopted or amended comprehensive plans by the adoption of appropriate land development regulations or elements; and to establish, support and maintain administrative instruments and procedures to carry out the provisions and purposes” of Florida’s Community Planning Act. Fla. Stat. § 163.3161.

A comprehensive land use plan must include: “the principles, guidelines, standards, and strategies for the orderly and balanced future economic, social, physical, environmental, and fiscal development of the area that reflects community commitments to implement the plan and its elements. Fla. Stat. § 163.3177(1).

Further, a comprehensive land use plan must also include: “at least two planning periods, one covering at least the first 5-year period occurring after the plan’s adoption and one covering at least a 10-year period. Additional planning periods for specific components, elements, land use amendments, or projects shall be permissible and accepted as part of the planning process. Fla. Stat. § 163.3177(5)(a).



Land Use Planning Process

1-FL-a.1 – Is There a Comprehensive Land Use Plan in Place?

The developer should check the local government website or contact the municipal or county clerk, or planning board to gain access to the comprehensive plan that is specific to the location of the proposed project. Florida gives authority to the local governments to “adopt, maintain and implement land use plans and development regulations for all future development actions.” Fla. Stat. § 163.3167. A comprehensive land use plan is required to “guide and control future development; address existing problems as well as problems that may arise in the future as a result of the development and use of land; preserve, promote, protect and improve public health, safety, comfort and good order; and protect human, environmental, social and economic resources.” Fla. Stat. § 163.3161(4).

1-FL-a.2 – Review Municipal and County Land Use Plans

The developer should review municipal and county land use plans as well as any accompanying maps, studies or other relevant information in order to determine the goals and planning strategies that apply to the proposed project site. All 67 counties as well as each city and town within the State of Florida has a comprehensive land use plan as each municipality and county has been delegated the legislative authority and given its duties and responsibility to provide for a comprehensive land use plan. Fla. Stat. § 163.3167(3)


1-FL-a.3 – Does the Project Require a Proposal to Amend a Comprehensive Plan?

A developer may propose to amend a municipal or county comprehensive land use plan. Adoption and amendments to county and municipal comprehensive plans vary depending on jurisdiction. However, the procedure process for amendments of municipal plans must follow the general requirements in Fla. Stat. § 163.3184, as outlined below.

Any plan amendment is required to follow the expedited state review process outlined in Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(3), unless the plan amendment 1) qualifies as a small-scale development and therefore follows the small-scale review process in Fla. Stat. § 163.3187 or 2) must follow the state coordinated review process. Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(2).

1-FL-a.4 – Is the Amendment Eligible for a Small-Scale Review Process?

If the proposed plan amendment is eligible for the Small-Scale Review Process, the amendment involves 10 acres or less, a maximum of 120 acres annually and the amendment itself is limited to the map and no textual changes are allowed. If the proposed plan amendment is eligible for a Small-Scale Review Process, the developer should submit the amendment to the local planning agency under the Small-Scale Review Process and go to element 6. Fla. Stat. § 163.3187.

1-FL-a.5 – Does the Amendment Qualify for a State Coordinated Review Process?

A proposed plan amendment is required to follow the State Coordinated Review Process if the amendment falls under one of the following categories:

If the proposed plan amendment qualifies for a State Coordinated Review Process, the developer should go to element 12.

Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(4).


1-FL-a.6 – Submit Amendment Under the Small-Scale Review Process

If the proposed plan amendment is eligible for a Small-Scale Review Process, the developer should submit the amendment to the local planning agency under the Small-Scale Review Process. Fla. Stat. § 163.3187.

1-FL-a.7 – Hold Public Hearing(s)

For an amendment going through the Small-Scale Review Process, the local planning agency holds at least one public hearing subject to Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(11). The local planning agency may then hold a second public hearing to consider adoption of the proposed amendment. Fla. Stat. § 163.3187

1-FL-a.8 to 1-FL-a.10 – Review Amendment for Approval

The local planning agency reviews the Amendment for approval. If approved, the amendment goes into effect upon adoption. Lastly, the local government is encouraged but not required to transmit a copy of the small-scale amendment to the state land planning agency which is the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Fla. Stat. § 163.3187

1-FL-a.11 – Appeal Decision (Optional)

An interested party, including the developer, can appeal the decision. Fla. Stat. § 120.569. For more information on the appeals process go to element 34.

1-FL-a.12 – Submit Amendment Under the State Coordinated Review Process

If the proposed plan amendment is eligible for a State Coordinated Review Process, the developer should submit the amendment to the local planning agency under the State Coordinated Review Process. Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(4). The developer must prepare and transmit the proposed amendment package to the local planning agency. Fla. Stat. § 163.3187(11).

1-FL-a.13 to 1-FL-a.14 – Hold Public Hearing(s)

The local planning agency holds at least one public hearing for an amendment submitted under the State Coordinated Review Process subject to Fla. Stat. § 163.3187(11). After the public hearing the local planning agency transmits the complete proposed amendment package to the state land planning agency. Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(4).

1-FL-a.15 to 1-FL-a.16 – Review Amendment for Approval

The state land planning agency has 30 days to review the proposed amendment package. The state land planning agency then issues an Objection, Recommendation, and Comments Report (“ORC Report”), to the local planning agency within 60 days of receiving the amendment package. Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(4).

1-FL-a.17 to 1-FL-a.18 – Hold Second Public Hearing

Upon receipt of the ORC Report, the local planning agency has 180 days to hold a second public hearing to approve the amendment. If the local planning agency fails to hold a second public hearing within 180 days, the proposed amendments are deemed withdrawn unless the state land planning agency had issued an extension by agreement with the developer. If the proposed plan amendment is adopted, it must go into effect pursuant to the state land planning agency’s notice of intent within 45 days. Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(4).

1-FL-a.19 to 1-Fla.20 – Appeal Decision (Optional)

Within 30 days after the local planning agency adopts the amendment, the developer or an interested party may file an appeal with the Department of Administrative Hearings challenging the amendment. Fla. Stat. § 120.68. However, if there is a challenge to the proposed plan amendment, “it does not become effective until the state land planning agency or the Administration Commissioner enters a final order determining the adopted amendment to be in compliance.” Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(3)(c)(4). If the developer wants to proceed with such action, go to element 34.

1-FL-a.21 – Submit Amendment Under the Expedited Review Process

If the proposed plan amendment is eligible for an Expedited Review Process, the developer should submit the amendment to the local planning agency under the Expedited Review Process. Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(3).

1-FL-a.22 to 1-FL-a.24 – Hold Public Hearing

The local planning agency must hold a public hearing pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(11) and transmit within 10 days the amendment or amendments and supporting data and analyses to reviewing agencies. The local planning agency must also transmit a copy of the amendments and supporting data and analyses to any other local government or governmental agency that has filed a written request. Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(3)(b)(1).

The reviewing agencies and any other local government may provide comments regarding the amendment or amendments to the local planning agency within 30 days after local planning agency received the amendments pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(3)(b)(2)-(3).

1-FL-a.25 to 1-FL-a.27 – Hold Adoption Public Hearing

The local planning agency must hold an adoption public hearing within 180 days of the comment period and, if adopted, the amendment is given the effective date 31 days after the amendment has been ruled as complete. Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(3)(c)(1)-(4). The local planning agency must hold the public adoption hearing pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(11).

1-FL-a.28 – Appeal Decision (Optional)

Whether the proposed amendment is approved or denied at the adoption public hearing, it is then followed by an appeals period where either the developer or an interested party may challenge from the date of adoption for 30 days. Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(5)(a). If the developer wants to proceed with such action, go to element 33.

1-FL-a.29 – Review Municipal and County Zoning Regulations

A developer should review the applicable municipal and county zoning regulations to ensure the proposed project will comply with the zoning regulations.

Each municipality and county has the authority to enact land development (i.e., zoning) regulations. Fla. Stat. § 163.3202(1). These are “ordinances for the regulation of any aspect of development, including a subdivision, building construction, landscaping, tree protection, or sign regulation or any other regulation concerning the development of land…including a general zoning code. Further, counties are to “establish, coordinate and enforce zoning and such business regulations as are necessary for the protection of the public.” Fla. Stat. § 125.01(1)(h).

1-FL-a.30 to 1-FL-a.32 – Does the Project Require a Variance to a Zoning Ordinance?

If a proposed project does not comply with zoning regulations, the developer can make a request to the municipality or county to consider an application for zoning changes that would be “required to properly enact any proposed comprehensive land use plan amendment transmitted.” Further, any zoning changes that the local government approves is contingent upon the comprehensive plan or plan amendment transmitted becoming effective.

Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(12).

1-FL-a.33 – Appeal Decision (Optional)

The developer or any affected person may file a petition with the Division of Administrative Hearings pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 120.569 and Fla. Stat. § 120.57, with a copy served on the affected local government, to request a formal hearing to challenge whether the plan amendments are in compliance. The petition can only be filed within 30 days after the local government adopts the amendment. These challenges shall be determined in compliance if the local government’s determination of compliance is “fairly debatable.” Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(5)(c)(1).

Further, though a state land planning agency may not intervene in a proceeding initiated by an affected person, they may still file a petition with the Division of Administrative Hearings pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 120.569 and Fla. Stat. § 120.57 , with a copy served on the affected local government, requesting a formal hearing to challenge whether the plan amendment is in compliance. Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(5)(b). In these challenges, the local government’s determination that the plan amendment is in compliance is presumed to be correct, and the local government’s determination “shall be sustained unless it is shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the comprehensive plan amendment is not in compliance.” Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(5)(c)(2)(a) and (b).

Finally, if the administrative law judge recommends that the amendment is not in compliance, the judge will submit the recommended order to the Administration Commission for final agency action, whom will then make “every effort to enter a final order expeditiously, but at a minimum within the time period provided by Fla. Stat. § 120.569. Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(5)(d).

Whereas, if the administrative law judge recommends that the amendment be found in compliance, the judge shall submit the recommended order to the state land planning agency. Fla. Stat. § 163.3184(5)(e).


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