Rogers Towers: Summary of Growth Management Overhaul (HB 7207) Passed By Legislature


The Legislature has passed and the Governor signed HB 7207, comprehensive growth management reform legislation. 

The legislation amends several aspects of the growth management regulatory scheme in Florida. Summary highlights of the legislation follow.

Changes to Comprehensive Plan Amendments

The legislation revamps the procedures set forth in Chapter 163, Florida Statutes, by which local governments may adopt and amend their local comprehensive plans.

Expedited Review Process

  • Adopts streamlined process of expedited review for large- scale future land use map amendments.
  • Limits individual agency comments to the potential effect on state resources within that agency’s area of expertise; limits regional planning council and other local government comments on comprehensive plan amendments to the relationship to regional or municipal impacts.
  • State land planning agency is limited in review to comments provided by state agencies and a determination that an important state resource or facility would be adversely impacted; state agency’s determination must be supported by clear and convincing evidence.
  • Amendments reviewed under expedited process become effective 31 days after the local government has submitted the adoption package to the state land planning agency unless challenged by DCA in writing; no Notice of Intent is published in the expedited review process.
  • State land planning agency cannot intervene when a third party brings a challenge under this process.
  • Removes limitation of no more than two cycles for submittals to the state land planning agency per year.
  • Rule 9J-5 of Florida Administrative Code is repealed, but some portions have been incorporated into Chapter 163, Florida Statutes.

Small- Scale Comprehensive Plan Amendments

  • Removes restriction on filing more than 1 application in a 12 month period for the same property and also deletes restriction that would prohibit a landowner from filing an application for amendment for adjacent property within 12 months of prior application.
  • Allows certain text changes that relate to small-scale amendment to be adopted simultaneously with a small-scale land use amendment.
  • Removes density limitations for residential small-scale land use amendments.
  • Provides that in an administrative challenge, the standard of review is fairly debatable.
  • Prohibits the state land planning agency from intervening in an administrative challenge to a small-scale amendment.

State Coordinated Review

  • The State Coordinated Review process applies to most other comprehensive plan amendments, notably those involving EAR- based amendments, sector plans, areas of critical state concerns, rural land stewardship areas and amendments for new local government comprehensive plans.
  • Very similar to the current review process for comprehensive plan amendments in existing Chapter 163, Florida Statues.
  • In a challenge by a third party, the local government’s determination will be sustained under a fairly debatable standard of review; the state land planning agency cannot intervene in an action brought by a third party.
  • The state land planning agency can challenge an amendment within 45 days of receipt of the final adoption package.
  • Maintains the current standard of review in a challenge brought by the state land planning agency that the local government’s determination of compliance is presumed to be correct unless shown by a preponderance of evidence that it was not in compliance.

Changes to Concurrency

The legislation significantly modifies how local governments may address the provision of public infrastructure to serve new development, concurrent with the impacts of that development (a.k.a. “concurrency”).

  • Concurrency for parks and recreation, schools, and transportation facilities, including mass transit, is no longer mandated by State law and becomes optional for local governments.
  • To rescind any optional concurrency elements currently in a local government comprehensive plan, a local government must adopt a comprehensive plan amendment rescinding such elements. This amendment is not subject to State review.
  • For local governments opting to keep transportation as a concurrency element, the new legislation contains extensive and detailed provisions regarding:  adopting and meeting levels of service; preparing and adopting capital improvements elements; consulting with FDOT; allowing proportionate share agreements to meet transportation concurrency; and numerous specific requirements for any such proportionate share agreements. The former provisions relating to “fair share” agreements have been deleted.
  • Provisions regarding Transportation Concurrency Exception Areas (TCEAs), Transportation Concurrency Management Areas (TCMAs), long term concurrency management systems, have been deleted.
  • For local governments opting to keep schools as a concurrency element, the new legislation contains provisions regarding: adopting and meeting levels of service; preparing and adopting capital improvements elements; and allowing proportionate share agreements to meet school concurrency. Generally, these provisions add flexibility to a local government’s options for implementing school concurrency.
  • It is important to note that, in setting forth minimum requirements for the transportation element in local comprehensive plans, the new legislation keeps the general requirement that local governments project future levels of service and transportation system needs, and demonstrate how the local government will “correct existing facility deficiencies, meet the identified needs of the projected transportation system, and advance the purpose of [the transportation element].” 

Developments of Regional Impact

HB 7207 amends Chapter 380, Florida Statutes, dealing with developments of regional impact, as follows:

  • Authorizes local governments to issue development permits subsequent to a DRI buildout date if the amount of proposed development that remains to be built is less than 40% of DRI threshold (increased from 20%).
  • Substantial deviation thresholds and criteria have been changed for office, commercial and attraction/recreation facility developments; additional exemption criteria added.
  • A change in the DRI transportation proportionate share calculation and mitigation due to recalculation is presumed not to be a substantial deviation.
  • The following types of development are no longer subject to DRI review: industrial development, mining activity (provided certain criteria are satisfied), hotel/motel development, detailed specific area plans implementing a sector plan; multiscreen movie theaters.
  • A 4 year extension of DRI commencement, phase, buildout, and expiration dates is available upon written notice given prior to 12/31/11.
  • A local government may deny a proposed change to a DRI on the basis of local issues, e.g. plat restrictions.
  • Dense Urban Land Area concept/definitions relocated from ch. 163 to ch. 380; previously designated DULAs will retain DULA status (for DRI purposes), even if they no longer meet demographic criteria.
  • DRI aggregation criteria modified and aggregation threshold increased.

Sector Plans

Previously, Chapter 163, Florida Statutes provided a pilot program for an optional sector plan process that was designed as an alternative to the DRI process. There were limitations to the number of sector plans. The minimum size was 5,000 acres. HB 7207 modifies sector planning provisions as follows:

  • Eliminates the pilot program for optional sector plans and establishes a minimum 15,000 acre size for sector plans.
  • The sector planning process encompasses two parts: 1) Adoption of a long-term master plan (formerly a “conceptual long-term buildout overlay”) for the entire planning area as an amendment to the local comprehensive plan; and 2) Adoption by a local development order of two or more detailed specific area plans that implement the long-term master plan, and within which DRI requirements are waived.
  • The long-term master plan must include maps, illustrations, and text supported by data and analysis to address and identify: land uses, water supply and conservation measures, transportation facilities, and other regionally significant public facilities.
  • The long-term master plan must be based upon a planning period longer than the planning period of the local comprehensive plan and does not have to be based on need or any other basis. The long-term master plan must also specify the projected population within the planning area.
  • The state land planning agency review of a long-term master plan must include consultation with certain state and governmental agencies (DEP, Agriculture Dept., Fish & Wildlife Dept., FDOT, and MPO).
  • The detailed specific area plans (“DSAP”) must be consistent with and implement the long-term master plan and must include conditions and commitments that provide for: 1) development of a conservation area of at least 1,000 acres (less if approved by local government); 2) identification and analysis of maximum and minimum densities and intensities of use; 3) detailed identification of water resource development and supply; 4) detailed identification of transportation facilities to serve the future land uses in the DSAP; 5) detailed identification of public facilities necessary to serve development in the DSAP, including developer contribution in a 5-year capital improvements plan.
  • The local government adopting the DSAP is primarily responsible for monitoring and enforcing the DSAP. Local governments may not issue any permits or approvals or provide any extensions of services to development that are not consistent with the DSAP.
  • The adoption of a long-term master plan or a DSAP does not limit the right to continue existing agricultural or silvicultural uses or other natural resource-based operations or to establish similar new uses that are consistent with the plans approved.
  • The state land planning agency may enter into an agreement with a local government that, on or before July 1, 2011, adopted a large-area comprehensive plan amendment consisting of at least 15,000 acres that meets the requirements for a long-term master plan, after notice and public hearing by the local government, and thereafter, the large-scale plan shall be implemented through DSAPs without being subject to DRI review.

Rural Lands

            HB 7207 contains several changes that will benefit rural areas, particularly those with agricultural interests.

  • A change related to comprehensive plan amendments for rural agricultural industrial centers. Previously, any proposal to designate a rural agricultural industrial center was presumed to be urban sprawl and therefore limited a landowner’s ability to have his property achieve the designation. Such centers are now presumed not to be urban sprawl.
  • The former rural land stewardship area (“RLSA”) provisions have been revised to allow local governments to adopt future land use overlays to designate all or portions of lands classified as agricultural, rural, open, open-rural or an equivalent category as one or more RLSAs in their comprehensive plans by local ordinance, without the need for a separate agreement with the Florida Department of Community Affairs.
  • Development receiving areas are no longer subject to a minimum 25-year planning timeframe.
  • The designation of RLSAs is no longer based on need.
  • Any conservation easements required by an RLSA ordinance must be in place prior to any stewardship credits being transferred.

The attorneys in our Governmental and Regulatory Law Department stand ready to answer your questions regarding this significant new legislation and its impact on local government. Please contact Department Chair Wyman Duggan at (904) 398-3911.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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