2021 Florida Statutes (Including 2021B Session)
Rural land stewardship areas.
Rural land stewardship areas.
163.3248 Rural land stewardship areas.—
(1) Rural land stewardship areas are designed to establish a long-term incentive-based strategy to balance and guide the allocation of land so as to accommodate future land uses in a manner that protects the natural environment, stimulate economic growth and diversification, and encourage the retention of land for agriculture and other traditional rural land uses.
(2) Upon written request by one or more landowners of the subject lands to designate lands as a rural land stewardship area, or pursuant to a private-sector-initiated comprehensive plan amendment filed by, or with the consent of the owners of the subject lands, local governments may adopt a future land use overlay to designate all or portions of lands classified in the future land use element as predominantly agricultural, rural, open, open-rural, or a substantively equivalent land use, as a rural land stewardship area within which planning and economic incentives are applied to encourage the implementation of innovative and flexible planning and development strategies and creative land use planning techniques to support a diverse economic and employment base. The future land use overlay may not require a demonstration of need based on population projections or any other factors.
(3) Rural land stewardship areas may be used to further the following broad principles of rural sustainability: restoration and maintenance of the economic value of rural land; control of urban sprawl; identification and protection of ecosystems, habitats, and natural resources; promotion and diversification of economic activity and employment opportunities within the rural areas; maintenance of the viability of the state’s agricultural economy; and protection of private property rights in rural areas of the state. Rural land stewardship areas may be multicounty in order to encourage coordinated regional stewardship planning.
(4) A local government or one or more property owners may request assistance and participation in the development of a plan for the rural land stewardship area from the state land planning agency, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Department of Environmental Protection, the appropriate water management district, the Department of Transportation, private land owners, and stakeholders.
(5) A rural land stewardship area shall be not less than 10,000 acres, shall be located outside of municipalities and established urban service areas, and shall be designated by plan amendment by each local government with jurisdiction over the rural land stewardship area. The plan amendment or amendments designating a rural land stewardship area are subject to review pursuant to s. 163.3184 and shall provide for the following:
(a) Criteria for the designation of receiving areas which shall, at a minimum, provide for the following: adequacy of suitable land to accommodate development so as to avoid conflict with significant environmentally sensitive areas, resources, and habitats; compatibility between and transition from higher density uses to lower intensity rural uses; and the establishment of receiving area service boundaries that provide for a transition from receiving areas and other land uses within the rural land stewardship area through limitations on the extension of services.
(b) Innovative planning and development strategies to be applied within rural land stewardship areas pursuant to this section.
(c) A process for the implementation of innovative planning and development strategies within the rural land stewardship area, including those described in this subsection, which provide for a functional mix of land uses through the adoption by the local government of zoning and land development regulations applicable to the rural land stewardship area.
(d) A mix of densities and intensities that would not be characterized as urban sprawl through the use of innovative strategies and creative land use techniques.
(6) A receiving area may be designated only pursuant to procedures established in the local government’s land development regulations. If receiving area designation requires the approval of the board of county commissioners, such approval shall be by resolution with a simple majority vote. Before the commencement of development within a stewardship receiving area, a listed species survey must be performed for the area proposed for development. If listed species occur on the receiving area development site, the applicant must coordinate with each appropriate local, state, or federal agency to determine if adequate provisions have been made to protect those species in accordance with applicable regulations. In determining the adequacy of provisions for the protection of listed species and their habitats, the rural land stewardship area shall be considered as a whole, and the potential impacts and protective measures taken within areas to be developed as receiving areas shall be considered in conjunction with and compensated by lands set aside and protective measures taken within the designated sending areas.
(7) Upon the adoption of a plan amendment creating a rural land stewardship area, the local government shall, by ordinance, establish a rural land stewardship overlay zoning district, which shall provide the methodology for the creation, conveyance, and use of transferable rural land use credits, hereinafter referred to as stewardship credits, the assignment and application of which do not constitute a right to develop land or increase the density of land, except as provided by this section. The total amount of stewardship credits within the rural land stewardship area must enable the realization of the long-term vision and goals for the rural land stewardship area, which may take into consideration the anticipated effect of the proposed receiving areas. The estimated amount of receiving area shall be projected based on available data, and the development potential represented by the stewardship credits created within the rural land stewardship area must correlate to that amount.
(8) Stewardship credits are subject to the following limitations:
(a) Stewardship credits may exist only within a rural land stewardship area.
(b) Stewardship credits may be created only from lands designated as stewardship sending areas and may be used only on lands designated as stewardship receiving areas and then solely for the purpose of implementing innovative planning and development strategies and creative land use planning techniques adopted by the local government pursuant to this section.
(c) Stewardship credits assigned to a parcel of land within a rural land stewardship area shall cease to exist if the parcel of land is removed from the rural land stewardship area by plan amendment.
(d) Neither the creation of the rural land stewardship area by plan amendment nor the adoption of the rural land stewardship zoning overlay district by the local government may displace the underlying permitted uses or the density or intensity of land uses assigned to a parcel of land within the rural land stewardship area that existed before adoption of the plan amendment or zoning overlay district; however, once stewardship credits have been transferred from a designated sending area for use within a designated receiving area, the underlying density assigned to the designated sending area ceases to exist.
(e) The underlying permitted uses, density, or intensity on each parcel of land located within a rural land stewardship area may not be increased or decreased by the local government, except as a result of the conveyance or stewardship credits, as long as the parcel remains within the rural land stewardship area.
(f) Stewardship credits shall cease to exist on a parcel of land where the underlying density assigned to the parcel of land is used.
(g) An increase in the density or intensity of use on a parcel of land located within a designated receiving area may occur only through the assignment or use of stewardship credits and does not require a plan amendment. A change in the type of agricultural use on property within a rural land stewardship area is not considered a change in use or intensity of use and does not require any transfer of stewardship credits.
(h) A change in the density or intensity of land use on parcels located within receiving areas shall be specified in a development order that reflects the total number of stewardship credits assigned to the parcel of land and the infrastructure and support services necessary to provide for a functional mix of land uses corresponding to the plan of development.
(i) Land within a rural land stewardship area may be removed from the rural land stewardship area through a plan amendment.
(j) Stewardship credits may be assigned at different ratios of credits per acre according to the natural resource or other beneficial use characteristics of the land and according to the land use remaining after the transfer of credits, with the highest number of credits per acre assigned to the most environmentally valuable land or, in locations where the retention of open space and agricultural land is a priority, to such lands.
(k) Stewardship credits may be transferred from a sending area only after a stewardship easement is placed on the sending area land with assigned stewardship credits. A stewardship easement is a covenant or restrictive easement running with the land which specifies the allowable uses and development restrictions for the portion of a sending area from which stewardship credits have been transferred. The stewardship easement must be jointly held by the county and the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, a water management district, or a recognized statewide land trust.
(9) Owners of land within rural land stewardship sending areas should be provided other incentives, in addition to the use or conveyance of stewardship credits, to enter into rural land stewardship agreements, pursuant to existing law and rules adopted thereto, with state agencies, water management districts, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and local governments to achieve mutually agreed upon objectives. Such incentives may include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) Opportunity to accumulate transferable wetland and species habitat mitigation credits for use or sale.
(b) Extended permit agreements.
(c) Opportunities for recreational leases and ecotourism.
(d) Compensation for the achievement of specified land management activities of public benefit, including, but not limited to, facility siting and corridors, recreational leases, water conservation and storage, water reuse, wastewater recycling, water supply and water resource development, nutrient reduction, environmental restoration and mitigation, public recreation, listed species protection and recovery, and wildlife corridor management and enhancement.
(e) Option agreements for sale to public entities or private land conservation entities, in either fee or easement, upon achievement of specified conservation objectives.
(10) This section constitutes an overlay of land use options that provide economic and regulatory incentives for landowners outside of established and planned urban service areas to conserve and manage vast areas of land for the benefit of the state’s citizens and natural environment while maintaining and enhancing the asset value of their landholdings. It is the intent of the Legislature that this section be implemented pursuant to law, and rulemaking is not authorized.
(11) It is the intent of the Legislature that the rural land stewardship area located in Collier County, which was established pursuant to the requirements of a final order by the Governor and Cabinet, duly adopted as a growth management plan amendment by Collier County, and found in compliance with this chapter, be recognized as a statutory rural land stewardship area and be afforded the incentives in this section.
History.—s. 32, ch. 2011-139; s. 18, ch. 2012-5; s. 6, ch. 2015-30.