Local Government Land Use Planning and Regulation

By: Terrell K. Arline | Ansbacher Law

Florida has one of the country’s best land use planning laws.  Each municipality and every county in the state has a comprehensive plan that meets minimum, statewide, statutory standards. Each local government is implementing their plan with local land use regulations.

The comprehensive plan is like a constitution governing land use and development at the local level.  It guides and controls public and private land development.  The plan is even tied to funding public infrastructure, like roads, water, and sewer systems.  Each comprehensive plan is comprised of several chapters, or “elements” setting forth goals, objectives and policies governing land use and development.  Also, each plan contains a future land use map, which identifies the types of land uses authorized for every parcel of land in the local jurisdiction, such as residential, commercial, industrial, agriculture and other land uses.  State law requires all plans to be reevaluated by the local government every seven years, which may result in significant amendments to the plan.

The plans are statutorily required to be implemented by local governments through the adoption of land development regulations, such as zoning, subdivision regulations, and other ordinances regulating the development of land.  These local regulations often include provisions to protect environmental resources, control drainage and storm water, and they establish limits on density, building height, land use, and intensity of development.  Every land use regulation must be consistent with the comprehensive plan.

Comprehensive plans may be amended; text may be included or amended, and a property’s future land use map designation may be changed.  However, the law requires that any changes occur only after notice and public hearings. Certain plan amendments also require review by state and regional agencies.

Development orders issued by the local government must be “consistent” with the comprehensive plan and land development regulations.

Citizens can seek judicial and administrative remedies to enforce the local comprehensive plan and land use regulations, and they can challenge local development orders.  Ansbacher Law has attorneys familiar with land use planning and regulation law. Call us at 904-737-4600 or email info@ansbacher.net to see how we can assist with your land use planning and regulation!

TERRELL K. ARLINE is Of Counsel to Ansbacher Law. Mr. Arline obtained a law degree and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Florida. He practiced law in Palm Beach County before moving to Tallahassee to work for the Department of Community Affairs. He was the Legal Director of 1000 Friends of Florida. He served as the Bay County Attorney for ten years. In 2014, Florida Trend recognized Terrell as one of Florida’s Legal Leaders. He is currently practicing law in Tallahassee focusing on local government, land use, administrative, and environmental law.