What's a Comprehensive Plan?
Comprehensive Plans or Growth Management Plans (Comp Plans) are typically large documents prepared by cities and counties that describes a planning framework for managing growth and development. Comp Plans address transportation, employment and housing options, protection of the environment, economic opportunity, intergovernmental coordination. One of the most important chapters in a Comp Plan is the Future Land Use Chapter and associated Maps and Zoning.
Why have a plan?
Cities and counties in Florida are required by state law to have Comp Plans. They have been around for 30 years or more.
Why are they important?
Comprehensive or Growth Management Plans are important because they have numerous Goals, Objectives, and Policies that describe how the city or county will grow, what activities can take place in certain areas, what type of development can occur in certain areas, they provide direction for the city or county governments for economic opportunities, transportation, and numerous other aspects related to managing growth.
The purpose of the plans is to prevent urban sprawl by providing a plan that addresses the orderly growth and developments for years into the future. The purpose of these plans is to describe how the city or county will guide growth and development into the future, how they will protect certain characteristics (rural areas, special natural areas or resources, etc.), and how they will pay for things (roads, schools, trails, etc.). The beginnings of each Chapter or Element typically describes the purpose of that Chapter.
What is the timeframe for a plan?
Plans are revised based on a schedule, but they generally are adopted by the city or county and are in place for 15 or 20 or more years. Lake County's Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2010 and is effective until 2030.
What does "Adopted" mean?
The complete plan with Goals, Objectives, and Policies related to a variety of subjects are prepared and they are officially "adopted" by a county or city. "Adopted" means the officiating body - a city council or commission, or county council or commission – have all agreed that this is the plan! A motion is made and seconded, a vote is taken, and the document is said to be "adopted."
What's an Ordinance?
An Ordinance, according to Webster's Dictionary is "an authoritative decree or direction; a law set forth by a governmental authority; a municipal regulation; a prescribed usage, practice or ceremony." Many actions voted on by local officials are call Ordinances. In addition to having a title, Ordinances are identified by a number sequence like 2021-1, 2021-2, 202o-1, 2020-2, etc. Officials also vote on Resolutions that are more policy that
The County Future Land Use Map (FLUM) - The adopted FLUM serves as a guide for growth and development. If you live in a rural area identified on the FLUM zoned for one housing unit per five acre and you own 10 acres, you may be able to put two houses on your property, but you can't automatically put ten houses. You might be able to put 10 houses on the 10-acre lot if you submit what is called a Planned Unit Development (PUD), which requires a lot of other specific criteria like retention ponds, some percentage of open space, sidewalks, central sewer or nowadays – more highly treated Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems. Other required criteria for PUDs are defined in the city or county Land Development Regulations. If your property in located in an unincorporated part of the county and you want to increase the housing density on your property, you can just apply to annex into the nearest city. Most cities do not have rural densities so it's very easy to get one unit or more per acre through annexation. And therein lies a problem facing many rural areas. See the Annexation and ISBA tabs for more info.
How Comp Plans are Set Up Comp Plans are divided up into Chapters which are also called "Elements." Several Elements are required, several are optional. In addition to chapters about housing, roads, finance, intergovernmental coordination (official city folks need to talk to official county folks), conservation, and a host of other topics. Comp Plans also have a Future Land Use Map (FLUM) with Zoning densities and intensities.
Comp Plans are also set up so that each Chapter or Element has Goals and Objectives and also Policies designed to meet the Goals and Objectives. Each Objective has a title, a description or narrative about the purpose of the Objective, and then numerous Policies designed to meet the Objective. If you check out your local Comp Plan online, you will see the:
Goal Title and Description
Policies related to the Objective
The numerical set up of the Objectives, Goals and Policies can be a bit confusing until you start looking at the Policies more carefully. Objectives are set up numerically with Policies numbers matching the Objective numbers. Example – Objective 1, Policy 1, Policy 1.1, Policy 1.2, etc. Objective 2, Policy 2.1, Policy 2.2, etc.
Lake County Comprehensive Plan Chapters include:
Chapter I: Future Land Use Element,
Chapter II: Capital Improvement Element,
Chapter III: Conservation Element
Chapter IV- Chapter IX include the Elements for: Economics, Housing, Intergovernmental Coordination, Parks and Recreation, Transportation, Public Facilities
Chapter X is Definitions and Acronyms
Chapter XI is Map Series (the Yalaha-Lake Apopka RPA boundary is depicted on the Future Land Use Map)
Why are the words "Consistent with" important?
It's important to note that all city and county approvals for activities or commercial or residential developments, including rezoning, are supposed to be "consistent with" and not contrary to or inconsistent with their Comp Plan. An applicant who desires to change from one city or county zoning category to a higher density category must provide substantial competent evidence that their proposal is consistent with the Comp Plan.
Changes to a Comp Plan - Any changes to a Comp Plan must go thru what is called a plan Amendment process – either a Large Scale Plan Amendment or a Small Scale Plan Amendment. All Amendments must be "transmitted" or sent to the state Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) for their review. The Commission votes to send or transmit the proposed Amendment to DEO.
Several years ago, before the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) was dismantled, Amendments were submitted to DCA and they could actually object to the Amendments if they determined the Amendments were inconsistent with Comprehensive Plans. Studies have shown that frequent Amendments to Comprehensive Plans erode the ability to manage growth.
Personal Opinions - While we value the personal opinions of our elected officials, City or County Commissioners "personal opinions" should not be the basis for approving or not approving a particular project. They should be considering the facts as they relate to their Comprehensive Plan or Growth Management Plan.
What residents can do – Rural residents should become familiar with those aspects of the Lake County Comprehensive Plan that deals with consistencies with adjacent community types, traffic issues, existing zoning categories, the Future Land Use (FLU) Map, that part of the FLU Map that depicts the RPA s (maybe you live in an RPA and don't know it!), and the Comp Plan Policies associated with the Rural Protection Areas that aim to maintaining rural areas and rural character.
Comp Plans are important because once property owners become familiar with the plans, they can have reasonable expectations that the Goals, Objectives and Policies outlined in a plan related to their rural area could protect them from unacceptable adjacent land uses and they will know when their rural policies are being compromised, which unfortunately, they often are.
Check out RPA and RPA Policies found in the complete Lake County Comprehensive Plan.
Look for the link to the Lake County FTP server.
OR follow this link and choose the subcategories
Agencies and Departments
Look for this text to access the Comp Plan link on the Lake Count Website:
"You may use the links below to view/download documents or you may browse and download documents from our FTP server located at: LakeCountyFL.gov/ftp/2030 Comprehensive Plan/Comprehensive Plan as of May 25, 2010"