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Comprehensive Plan Review

The Office of Intergovernmental Programs coordinates the Department’s review of amendments to local government comprehensive plans. Pursuant to Chapter 163, F.S., DEP provides comments addressing important state resources and facilities that will be adversely impacted by the amendment and recommends measures the local government may take to eliminate, reduce or mitigate the adverse impacts. These reviews provide DEP the opportunity to guide local government development and economic growth, in a way that will protect natural resources.

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN REVIEWS

Background

The State of Florida has developed an integrated planning system intended to ensure the coordinated administration of policies that address the multitude of issues posed by the state’s continued growth and development. The integrated comprehensive planning framework calls for planning at all levels of government. Key statutory guidance for the planning activities are included in the following statutes:

  • Chapter 380, Part I, the Environmental Land and Water Management Act, which directs the integration and coordination of land and water management activities and specifically authorizes Developments of Regional Impact (DRI) and Areas of Critical State Concern.
  • Chapter 187, the State Comprehensive Plan, which sets forth the goals that articulate Florida’s desired future.
  • Chapter 186, on State and Regional Planning, which provides direction for the integration of state, regional and local planning efforts. This act specifically requires the development of agency strategic plans and Strategic Regional Policy Plans (SRPP).
  • Chapter 163, Part II, the Local Government Planning and Land Development Regulation Act, which directs local government planning and includes requirements for Evaluation and Appraisal Reports (EAR).

OIP coordinates the Department’s involvement in statewide planning efforts conducted under all of the above authorities, although the nature and level of involvement varies. The State Comprehensive Plan and the majority of the local government comprehensive plans have been adopted, while numerous local comprehensive plan amendments continue to be reviewed through OIP each year. The State Comprehensive Plan is reviewed annually and local plans are updated every five to seven years through the Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) process. Through that process, the Department has the formal opportunity to evaluate proposed amendments to the comprehensive plan, which are based upon the evaluation and appraisal report, to ensure that they are consistent with DEP’s rules and policies.

The Florida Water Plan and the Florida Transportation Plan have been adopted. Through its review of planning activities, OIP assists with implementation of the Florida Water Plan, and the water supply plans of the five water management districts.

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Local Government Comprehensive Plans

Growth management legislation was passed in 1985 in response to Florida's commitment to provide the facilities and services that communities need to foster economic growth and preserve natural amenities. The importance of comprehensive planning cannot be overstressed, because it results in decisions regarding long-term issues such as environmental protection and economic development. Section 163.3177, F.S., requires that local government comprehensive plans provide the policy foundation for local planning and land use decisions on capital improvements, conservation, intergovernmental coordination, recreation, open space, future land use, housing, transportation, coastal management (where applicable) and public facilities.

Since Florida’s county and city governments have now adopted local government comprehensive plans, DEP’s ongoing plan review activity involves amendments to the previously adopted plans. The reviews provide DEP an opportunity to guide local development in a manner consistent with the state’s adopted policies. Amendments can be in the form of: 1) map amendments that propose changes to a local government’s future land use map; 2) text amendments that propose changes to the goals, objectives, and polices of the adopted comprehensive plan; and 3) amendments that are based on the evaluation and update of a local government’s comprehensive plan. The latter may be a combination of both map and text amendments.

Comprehensive Plan Review Process
The review process is initiated when a local government transmits a proposed or adopted comprehensive plan amendment to the appropriate state and regional agencies, including: the DEP, Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), Department of State, Department of Transportation, regional planning councils and water management districts. Other agencies that may be included in the review process are: the Department of Education (if the amendment affects schools), Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (for county amendments); county governments (for municipal amendments); and the commanding officer of any affected military installation. The three review processes for amending comprehensive plans include the Expedited State Review, State Coordinated Review and Small Scale Review.

With the exception of small scale amendments, which involve land use changes on parcels of ten acres or less (or 20 acres or less for parcels within rural areas of critical economic concern) and are exempt from state and regional review, most amendments proposed and later adopted by local governments are now reviewed through the Expedited State Review process. The DEP and other state and regional agencies must provide comments directly to the local government within 30 days of receiving an expedited review amendment and copy DEO, the state land planning agency.

Amendments that would change land uses within an Area of Critical State Concern, create a Rural Land Stewardship Area or sector plan, create a DRI or update a comprehensive plan based upon an Evaluation and Appraisal Report, also referred to as EAR, are required to use the State Coordinated Review process. In a coordinated review, DEP must provide comments to DEO within 30 days of its receipt of a complete amendment package. DEO has a total of 60 days from receipt to provide the local government with the state’s objections, recommendations and comments.

In both coordinated and expedited review processes, DEP provides comments addressing important state resources and facilities that will be adversely impacted by the amendment. DEP must state with specificity how the plan amendment will adversely impact an important state resource or facility and recommend measures the local government may take to eliminate, reduce or mitigate the adverse impacts. Through OIP, DEP comments on the following important state resources and facilities:

  • Air and water pollution
  • Wetlands and other surface waters of the state
  • Federal and state-owned lands and interest in lands, including state parks, greenways and trails, and conservation easements
  • Solid waste
  • Water and wastewater treatment
  • Everglades ecosystem restoration

If there are issues that cannot be resolved, DEO may challenge an adopted plan amendment. Detailed guidelines for submittal and processing of comprehensive plan amendments may be found at the DEO website.

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Last updated: March 03, 2016

  Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 2600 Blair Stone Rd M.S. 47  Tallahassee, Florida 32399  
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