Chapter 163 F. S. growth policy

County and municipal planning

Land development regulation

Required elements


Chapter 163 F.S. growth policy              

Florida’s Growth Policy Act recognizes and promotes the beneficial impact that strong urban centers have on local and state economies and resources and, thus, urges respective governments to revitalize urban centers by providing adequate infrastructure, human services, safe neighborhoods, educational facilities, and economic development.

The Act refers to this effort as infill development and redevelopment, wherein public services such as water, transportation, schools, etc., are already in place prior to capital improvements in areas that suffer from pervasive poverty and unemployment with substandard properties.

County and municipal planning    

Florida’s Community Planning Act was established to strengthen the power of local governments in establishing comprehensive planning programs for future development; in encouraging appropriate use of land, water, and resources in the interest of the public; and in overcoming current and future problems caused by land use and development.

The intent of the Act was to have local governments concentrate on community land use and growth for the protection of public health, safety, and general welfare while the state government concentrates on protecting state resources and facilities.

The Act protects the traditional economic base of Florida, i.e., agriculture, tourism, and military presence, and encourages economic diversification, workforce development, and community planning. The Act also protects private property and the rights of private property owners.

Land development regulation                    

The Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which monitored housing and commercial development in Florida, was abolished in 2011. The DCA was originally established to prevent sprawl and congestion.  In its stead, the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) was created and the power to make development decisions was relegated to local governments, thereby diminishing state oversight. The DEO supervises funds used to incentivize businesses to come to Florida.

Required elements                      

A comprehensive plan must be implemented by adopting sufficient land use control ordinances and capital improvement programs as well as the following elements as required by Florida statute.

Future land use. The plan must designate proposed future distribution and location of residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, recreational, conservation, education, public facilities, and other categories of land use. The plan must also include the standards for control and distribution of population densities and building intensities.

Traffic circulation. The plan must include a transportation element to plan for a multimodal transportation system with emphasis on public transportation systems. The transportation element must address traffic circulation to include the types, locations, and extent of existing and proposed major thoroughfares and transportation routes and maps showing the existing and proposed system features. An airport plan may be incorporated into the master plan.

Conservation of natural resources. A conservation element must be included in the plan for the conservation, use, and protection of air, water, water recharge areas, wetlands, water wells, marshes, soils, beaches, shores, flood plains, rivers, lakes, forests, wildlife, marine habitat, minerals, and other resources.

Recreation. The plan is also to include an element for a comprehensive system of public and private sites for recreation to include natural reservations, parks and playgrounds, parkways, beaches, open spaces, waterways, and other recreation facilities.

Housing. A mandated housing element must include principles, guidelines, standards, and strategies for providing housing for all current and future residents, the elimination of substandard dwelling conditions, the improvement of existing housing, sites for future housing, relocation housing, and affordable housing.

Coastal zone protection where relevant. Another element of the plan is for coastal management to maintain and restore the quality of the coastal zone environment, preserve populations of wildlife and marine life, protect coastal zone resources, and manage coastal zone development.

Intergovernmental coordination. An intergovernmental coordination element must be included that shows the relationships and states principles and guidelines to be used in coordinating the comprehensive plan with 1) plans from local government units that do not have regulatory authority over land use, 2) comprehensive plans of adjacent municipalities and areas, and 3) the state comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan must show consideration for plans of these other entities.

Utilities. An element for sanitary sewer, solid waste, drainage, potable water, and natural groundwater aquifer recharge must also be included in the plan to indicate means for providing protection for these facilities in the area.

Concurrency. Concurrency is a set of land use regulations that local governments within Florida adopt to assure that new development does not exceed the local government’s ability to handle it. The local government needs to have enough infrastructure capacity to support any proposed development.

Regulations require the governments to meet concurrency requirements for sanitary sewer, solid waste, drainage, and potable water by the time a certificate of occupancy is issued for the development. Parks and recreation, schools, and transportation facilities no longer fall under the state’s concurrency requirements. They and other non-mandatory public facilities may, however, fall under a local government’s concurrency requirements if the local government’s plan provides the principles, guidelines, standards, and strategies for applying the concurrency to the facility.

Optional elements may include historical, scenic preservation, economic, and public buildings.