November 29, 2022
Valid Objections to a Change of Land Use
When dreaming of the next addition to your community, it can be exciting to envision how well a project will fit into the area around it. However, what may seem like a big hit to a developer could be stopped in its tracks when brought up against land use standards.
Every county has its own requirements for land development. These regulations can include comprehensive plans, land use and zoning maps, land development codes, and more. So what happens if your project doesn’t fully comply? You may need to get a land use change or rezoning approved by the governmental body with jurisdiction over your property.
These changes can be made as one-time exceptions or as permanent amendments to the policies in question. Either way, it is useful to know what sort of objections you can expect to arise during the application process. Below we’ve highlighted some of the most frequent challenges during a land use change or rezoning.
Objections and Considerations
One of the objections brought up during land use changes/rezonings is a lack of concurrency with existing school capacity. An excellent example of this would be a land use change to increase the density of a neighborhood.
Imagine there is an area of single-family homes that is designated to have one home per acre. A land use change could be proposed to increase the number to two homes per acre, doubling the number of residents. However, some states (such as Florida) limit the number of students in a classroom, capping the number of students an institution can enroll. Additionally, local Florida governments require adequate infrastructure to accommodate development: this is called ‘concurrency.’ One of the most important measures of concurrency is school capacity.
If the proposed development is located in an area with a capacity concern, a land use application should expect pushback from governing bodies because such a development wouldn’t be supported by the existing school infrastructure.
With the development of land comes the responsibility of maintaining the natural environment around us. Thankfully, safeguards have been built into most state planning laws to promote the preservation and conservation of natural resources. This means any changes requested in areas that are environmentally sensitive should be well-researched on the unique concerns of the land and its biomes.
These concerns are not just siloed to projects located on undeveloped land. Environmental objections can come up in arguments regarding the changing density of a local population. Even with careful community planning, bringing more humans into the equation will change the nature of an area. When environmental objections arise from a land use change, they are meant to prevent the natural environment from being permanently damaged. Developers and their planning consultants must consider sustainability for the sake of their community, its natural resources, and the approval of their projects.
Recreation and Open Space
An easily forgotten issue is the importance of recreation and open space in a community. The term ‘open space’ refers to any publicly accessible piece of underdeveloped land. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection states that the “preservation of green space, including parks, open space, beaches and natural areas, is an important factor in creating livable communities.”
Being located in larger cities like Gainesville and St. Augustine, we understand how easily a community can lose access to the benefits of open areas for activity and recreation. That being said, any land use change that could impact the availability of open space in a community may be subject to scrutiny. For this reason, we recommend that developers consult with their land planner and civil engineer to incorporate responsible open space into their developments. This bolsters community buy-in and makes for a straightforward approval process with local permitting agencies.
While these are some of the most common objections that can be made during a change of land use or rezoning application, there are many more that may arise during the process. To ensure your development project succeeds, you need the expertise and support of a team with decades of experience in the field. From zoning to close-out, our team of land planners and civil engineers is prepared to work with you to create something that will serve you and your community for years to come. Talk to us about how your next project complies with your local land development regulations.