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Land-use Planning

What is land-use planning?

Land-use planning is the process through which citizens decide what land uses should go where in their city or county. In addition to designating areas for commercial, residential, agricultural, and conservation uses, land-use plans can also include other governmental services, such as transportation, water and sewer lines, and schools, which have profound effects on land use.

Who makes land-use plans?

In Florida, state law requires every county to adopt a comprehensive land-use plan. The law also requires incorporated cities with more than 2,500 residents to adopt land-use plans. The Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has adopted standards for these plans.

The federal government adopts regulations that affect local land use, such as federal flood insurance requirements and wetlands permitting procedures.

What are the benefits of land-use planning?

One of the key benefits is to ensure that enough space is available to meet the area's forecasted needs. The plan should cover infrastructure -- roads, schools, sewer and water lines -- that are needed to support future development. Land-use planning gives citizens the opportunity to develop their vision of the future and to set the goals and policies that balance economic development with the protection of natural and cultural resources.

How do land-use plans affect me?

Although land-use plans can be changed, the process requires public hearings as well as review and approval by the Florida Department of Community Affairs. Thus, if you buy land in an area designated for residential use at a certain density, it's unlikely that you'll end up with a slaughterhouse or a used-car lot for a neighbor. Land-use plans do not guarantee that designations will never change, but the process of change gives affected citizens opportunities to voice their opinions.

Your ability to modify the use of your land may be restricted by the land-use plan that governs your area. For example, if you own 100 acres of farmland that is designated in the plan as agricultural, you may be allowed to build, say, one house per 20 acres (depending on the rules set out in the local plan). Without a change to the plan, you would not be allowed to subdivide the property into one-acre residential lots or to build a shopping center on your land.

If you are thinking of moving to this region, be sure to find out about the restrictions and regulations that affect a property you are thinking of buying. It�s best to check directly with the local government. Ask about other agencies that may have a say, and contact them, too. Ask about pending changes to land-use plans, zoning, and other rules.

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This page was last modified on : 09/30/2004

Florida Natural Areas Inventory
1018 Thomasville Road
Suite 200-C
Tallahassee, Florida 32303
Phone: (850) 224-8207
Fax: (850) 681-9364