A key function of the Planning Division is to manage changes to the County’s Comprehensive Plan through the amendment process.
Palm Beach County Comprehensive Plan
Pursuant to Chapter 163, F.S., each local government is required to maintain a comprehensive plan that “shall consist of materials in such descriptive form, written or graphic, as may be appropriate to the prescription of principles, guidelines, and standards for the orderly and balanced future economic, social, physical, environmental, and fiscal development of the area.”
Palm Beach County’s Comprehensive Plan is comprised of 15 elements including both required and optional, and a Map Series, including the Future Land Use Atlas. The Future Land Use Atlas (FLUA) identifies the future land use (FLU) designation for every parcel in unincorporated Palm Beach County.
The Comprehensive Plan is available at the following link:
The FLUA is available at the following link:
Comprehensive Plan Amendment Process
The County processes six rounds of amendments to the Comprehensive Plan per year; two large scale amendment rounds with both text amendments and site specific amendments to the FLUA, and four small scale amendment rounds limited to only small scale amendments (and associated text amendments if applicable). Only the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) or Local Planning Agency/Planning Commission (LPA/PLC) can initiate amendments to the text of the Comprehensive Plan.
Privately Initiated FLUA Amendments
Property owners, and/or their designated agent, may request a FLU change by requesting a site-specific amendment to the FLUA by submitting an application. Amendments to the FLUA are legislative in nature. Submittal of the FLUA Amendment application and fees does not convey any entitlements to the subject parcel(s), and does not guarantee the approval of the amendment by the BCC. When a proposed FLUA amendment has been denied by the BCC, the same parcel(s) may not be heard for the amendment request for a period of two years unless otherwise specified by the BCC. Additionally, pursuant to BCC direction on July 15, 2008 and reaffirmed on October 11, 2011, proposed FLUA amendments determined to be inconsistent with a prohibitive provision of the Comprehensive Plan will not be processed. (See FLUA Application, Prohibitive Policy Directive and Sufficiency Process Sections)
The FLUA Amendment Application is available on the following page:
FLUA Amendment with Associated Text Amendments. Pursuant to BCC direction on February 23, 2012, property owners may submit an application to request a Text Amendment to the Comprehensive Plan. These requests must be made in conjunction with a site specific FLUA Amendment and requested in order to alleviate an inconsistency with a prohibitive policy of the Comprehensive Plan. Amendments are legislative; submittal of an application and fees does not convey any entitlements to the subject parcel(s), does not guarantee that the BCC will consent to the request to initiate the review of the amendment, and does not imply that the BCC will ultimately approve the amendment. The Text Amendment application process is detailed below.
- Applicant submits Text Amendment Application & Text Amendment Request Fee at one of the following intakes:
- Standard Submittal: The standard intake dates are held generally two months prior to the FLUA intake date as posted on the official schedule online.
- Early Submittal: The applicant has the option of submitting the Text Amendment application on the first Friday of any month in order to have the request considered prior to preparing the complete FLUA application. If the BCC initiates the request, Planning staff will identify the next possible FLUA intake dates for submittal.
- Planning Division presents the text request to the Planning Commission (PLC) for review and recommendation. The Text Amendment Application must be determined to be complete by the Planning Division in order to be processed.
- Planning Division presents the text request to the BCC with the PLC recommendation for initiation.
- If the BCC initiates the Text Amendment, the applicant must submit the associated FLUA amendment at the next available intake date with the FLUA Amendment fees and an additional Text Amendment Processing Fee. Initiation does not imply that these amendments will be approved. Rather, the initiation authorizes staff to proceed with the review and analysis of the text amendment upon the intake of the associated FLUA amendment. The text and FLUA amendments will be processed/ presented to the LPA and BCC concurrently.
- If the BCC does not initiate the text amendment and the text amendment is necessary to alleviate a prohibitive policy, the Planning Division will not accept the associated FLUA application and no further action is taken.
The Text Amendment Application is available on the following page:
Types of Privately Initiated FLUA Amendments
- Large Scale Amendments: A Large Scale Amendment application may be submitted for a FLUA change only, or a FLUA and Tier Change, or a Tier Change only.
- Large Scale Amendment with Tier Amendment: Palm Beach County adopted the Managed Growth Tier System in 1999 to develop and implement strategies to protect viable existing neighborhoods and communities and to direct the location and timing of future development within five geographically specific regions of the County. A property owner may request an amendment to change their site from one Tier to another through the Amendment process. An amendment request that includes a Tier amendment are subject to the following:
- Criteria. Tier amendments are governed by FLUE Policy 1.1-b that contains the re-designation criteria and Policy 1.1-d requires a determination that the request does not constitute urban sprawl. These policies are “shall not” or prohibitive policies. Therefore, if the request does not meet the requirement of these policies, the application may be processed and/or the amendment may not be approved.
- Concurrent FLUA Application. Proposed Tier amendments may require a concurrent Future Land Use Atlas amendment since not all Future Land Use designations are allowed in all Tiers. Applications for a Tier amendment without a necessary FLU amendment will be found insufficient for processing. If a proposed Tier amendment requires and/or includes a concurrent FLUA amendment, the entire FLUA Amendment application must be completely submitted. If the Tier amendment does not require and/or does not include a concurrent FLUA amendment, Section VIII. Public Facilities, is not required to be submitted as part of the application. A proposed Tier Boundary Change requires an additional fee.
- Study. The County shall conduct a study to address the proposed Tier amendment and, depending on the Tier amendment proposed, the County may require additional data and analysis from the applicant during the amendment process.
- Small Scale Amendments: In order to be processed as a Small Scale amendment (SCA), must be processed concurrently with an associated Zoning application (if applicable) and must meet the following criteria:
- SCA Criteria in the Introduction & Administration Element:
- The parcel consists of a lot (or lots) which do not exceed a total of 10 acres in size (including all land necessary to support the proposed use including land necessary for drainage);
- The parcel is located within the Urban Service Area Boundary;
- The request is not to move the boundary of any tier.
- SCA Criteria pursuant to F.S. § 163.3187(1):
- The proposed amendment involves a use of 10 acres or fewer;
- The cumulative annual effect of the acreage for all small scale development amendments adopted by the local government does not exceed a maximum of 120 acres in a calendar year;
- The proposed amendment does not involve a text change to the goals, policies, and objectives of the local government’s comprehensive plan, but only proposes a land use change to the future land use map for a site-specific small scale development activity. However, text changes that relate directly to, and are adopted simultaneously with, the small scale future land use map amendment shall be permissible; and
- The property that is the subject of the proposed amendment is not located within an area of critical state concern, unless the project subject to the proposed amendment involves the construction of affordable housing units meeting the criteria of s. 420.0004(3), and is located within an area of critical state concern designated by s. 380.0552 or by the Administration Commission pursuant to s. 380.05(1).
Amendment Review Process
Initiation: Text amendments to the Comprehensive Plan can only be initiated by the PLC or BCC. Subsequent to the Private Text Intake, and prior to the Private FLUA Intake, Planning staff presents the proposed text amendments to the PLC and the BCC for initiation. The initiation of the proposed items does not imply that these amendments will be approved. Rather, the initiation authorizes staff to proceed with the review and analysis of the proposed amendments.
Private FLUA Amendment Intake: The Planning Division accepts privately initiated FLUA Amendment applications six times per year. Upon intake, Planning staff review the application for sufficiency (see FLUA Amendment Application, Sufficiency).
County Review Process: Once proposed FLUA amendments are found sufficient for processing, the Planning Division prepares a staff report that examines data, performs an analysis of consistency with the Comprehensive Plan, and provides a recommendation. The County reviews each proposed FLUA amendment for consistency with the goals, objectives and policies of the County’s Comprehensive Plan. Highlights of the review process are provided below.
As outlined in Future Land Use Element (FLUE) Policy 2.1-f, the County reviews applications to ensure that the applicant has provided an adequate justification for the proposed future land use and for residential density increases demonstrate that the current land use is inappropriate. In addition, the County shall review and make a determination that the proposed future land use is compatible with existing and planned development in the immediate vicinity and shall evaluate its impacts on:
- The natural environment, including topography, soils and other natural resources;
- The availability of facilities and services;
- The adjacent and surrounding development;
- The future land use balance;
- The discouragement of the proliferation of urban sprawl pursuant to F.S. § 163.3177(6)(a)9;
- Community Plans and/or Planning Area Special Studies recognized by the Board of County Commissioners; and
- Municipalities in accordance with Intergovernmental Coordination Element Objective 1.1.
Residential Amendments: The Comprehensive Plan, FLUE Policy 2.4-b, requires that residential density increases be achieved through the Workforce Housing and TDR programs; applications requesting a FLUA amendment to increase density must include an adequate justification and demonstration of need for the amendment, and demonstrate that the current future land use designation is inappropriate.
Traffic Requirements: Pursuant to FLUE Policy 3.5-d, all FLUA amendments must meet traffic standards.
Planning Commission Public Hearings: The Planning Division presents each staff report and recommendation to the Local Planning Agency/Planning Commission (LPA/PLC) at public hearings. Based on the staff report and the testimony at the hearing, the LPA/PLC makes a recommendation to the BCC.
BCC Public Hearings: The Planning Division presents the amendment staff reports, including the staff and LPA/PLC recommendations, to the BCC at Public Hearings. Large Scale amendments require a transmittal and an adoption public hearing and Small Scale amendments require only the adoption public hearing.
Large Scale BCC Transmittal Public Hearing. At the transmittal hearing, the Board makes a determination on each amendment whether to transmit the amendments to the State Land Planning Agency for review, or to decline to transmit the amendments.
Large Scale State Agency Review: All transmitted amendments are reviewed by State-mandated reviewing agencies, including Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC) for consistency with State plans and regulations. State Review Agencies must provide comments to the County within 30 days of receipt of the transmitted amendments.
BCC Adoption Hearing: The Planning Division presents the amendment staff reports to the BCC at an Adoption Public Hearing. For Large Scale amendments, the staff reports will address any comments or objections issued by the State Land Planning Agency and State Review Agencies. At the hearing, the Board makes a determination on each amendment whether to adopt the amendment by ordinance or to deny. Adopted amendments, along with the response to State comments, are submitted to the State Land Planning Agency and other state departments.
Effective Date: Adopted amendments become effective according to State Statute regulations. Challenged amendments enter an administrative hearing process.