Frequently Asked Long Range/Comprehensive Planning Questions
1. Question: What is a ‘Comprehensive Plan’?
A ‘Comprehensive Plan’ provides written guidance for community decisions about preservation, development, redevelopment, and funding of public facilities to support development (such as roads and water lines). This guidance is provided through Goals, Objectives, Policies, definitions, and graphic “exhibits”, such as the Future Land Use Map. The State of Florida requires all local governments to adopt a comprehensive plan.
2. Question: What is the Plan based on?
The plan must be based on citizen input, must consider private property rights, must consider environmental and/or historic/archaeological features, and population projections. The plan must be reviewed at least every 7 years, with citizen input, for possible amendment. Florida law also requires zoning (or a similar form of land development regulation) based on the comprehensive plan and ‘consistent’ with that plan. If there is a difference between what is allowed by zoning and what is allowed by the comprehensive plan, Florida Law mandates that the comprehensive plan provisions overrule the zoning provisions.
3. Question: What is a ‘Future Land Use designation’?
A ‘Future Land Use designation’ is a classification of a property that explains what types of development can be built on that property in the future, in accordance with policies of the Comprehensive Plan, definitions of that land use classification in the Plan, and requirements of the Land Development Regulations.
4. Question: What is the difference between a Future Land Use designation and a zoning district?
A Future Land Use designation explains, in general, what types of uses can be built at a location, and how many houses or how much of a nonresidential use can be built (the number of square feet allowed, for example, or other measure, in order to explain how ‘intense’ of a nonresidential use is allowed). The zoning district explains how those uses can be built. For example, a zoning district identifies the size of required front, side and rear yards (also called ‘setbacks’ from the property line), as well as the allowable height of a building and the number of parking spaces for each type of use.
5. Can a property owner change the Future Land Use designation of a property?
A property owner, or someone officially authorized by that property owner to act on his or her behalf, can apply to change the Future Land Use designation of a property. Application forms are available on the website of the Seminole County Planning & Development Division. There are two types of Future Land Use amendments, but the same application form is used for both types of amendments.
6. Question: What are the two types of Future Land Use amendments?
The two types of amendments are ‘Large Scale’ amendments, and ‘Small Scale’ Amendments. Large Scale amendments must be reviewed by State and Regional Reviews agencies. Small scale amendments are not reviewed by the State and Regional Review Agencies.
7. Question: What is the difference between a Large Scale and a Small Scale Future Land Use amendment?
According to Florida Statutes, Large Scale amendments are amendments for properties that are greater than 10 acres. In addition, a Large Scale amendment is any change to the Comprehensive Plan that will involve a change to the text (written part) of the comprehensive plan, unless it affects a particular property whose owner is applying for an amendment. A proposal is eligible to be treated as a Small Scale amendment, under State Law, if the property contains 10 or fewer acres. An amendment to the text that applies to that particular property can also be approved as part of the Small Scale amendment. However, local governments are allowed to treat a proposal as a Large Scale amendment even if it contains 10 or fewer acres for reasons such as protecting neighborhoods and environmentally sensitive areas. Seminole County reserves this right.
8. Question: What is the difference in the way Large Scale and Small Scale Future Land Use amendments are handled?
Both types of amendments are reviewed at a public hearing before the Seminole County Planning and Zoning Commission, after notification is published according to State Law in the newspaper. For a Large Scale Amendment, the next step is a ‘transmittal’ public hearing before the Seminole County Board of County Commissioners following a required advertisement. If the County Commission votes to approve transmittal, the Large Scale amendment is then sent for review to the State and Regional review agencies.
The review agencies must respond within 30 days. After receiving the responses, the County has 180 days to act, and must then send an adopted amendment back to the review agencies again. If a State or Regional review agency had raised a concern, and does not feel that the County addressed that concern adequately, the State Land Planning Agency has the authority to call for an Administrative Hearing.
With a Small Scale Amendment, following the hearing at the Planning and Zoning Commission, an adoption hearing is held before the Board of County Commissioners. The Small Scale amendment is not transmitted to the State and Regional review agencies. However, reports must be sent to the State Land Planning Agency summarizing the adoption of Small Scale amendments.
9. How can a citizen comment on or object to a Future Land Use amendment?
An interested citizen should feel free to contact the Planning and Development Division at 407-665-7445 for more information. Citizens are always encouraged to attend the public hearings at the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners to testify, or, if unable to attend those hearings, citizens may mail comments to the Planning and Development Division in advance of the meeting in order to have those comments read into the record (Seminole County Planning Division, 1101 E. 1st Street, Sanford, Florida 32771). Comments may also be faxed to the Planning and Development Division (407-665-7385.) Please advise the staff at 407-665-7445 that faxed comments are on their way.
If the amendment is a Large Scale Amendment, and the Board of County Commissioners votes to transmit the amendment to the State and Regional review agencies, the testimony of the concerned citizen will be transmitted in the material sent to the State Agency.
A second public hearing will be advertised and scheduled before the Seminole County Board of County Commissioners when the Large Scale amendment returns from review by the State and Regional Review Agencies. Citizens are again encouraged to attend or to submit comments if unable to attend. If the amendment is adopted and sent to the State and Regional Review Agencies, a citizen who wants to challenge the amendment then has 30 days from the date that the Board of County Commissioners adopts the amendment to file a petition with the State Division of Administrative Hearings in Tallahassee.
In the case of a Small Scale amendment, a citizen who objects to the adoption by the Seminole County Board of County Commissioners must also file an objection with the Division of Administrative Hearings.