Martin County Commissioners: Impact of HB 703 on Home Rule


mc-logotransMartin County Board of County Commissioners




HB 703, an act relating to environmental regulation, was filed for consideration by the Florida Legislature on January 21, 2014. HB 703 is scheduled to be heard in its first committee of reference, the Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee, on the first day of the legislative session, Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 1:30 pm in 102 House Office Building – PCS, Tallahassee.


·         HB 703 would require that all comprehensive plan amendments be adopted by a simple majority of the local government. This provision would negate the current plan policy requiring a majority vote of the total membership of the Board of County Commissioners then in office. This provision would also effectively negate the plan policy adopted by the Martin County Commission on August 13, 2013 establishing a requirement for a super-majority of 4 votes for comprehensive plan amendments regarding critical issues.
·         HB 703 places a limitation on county regulatory authority over agricultural lands; including a retroactive provision, applying to regulations adopted prior to 2003. This limitation will affect ordinances adopted by Martin County after July 1, 2003 including to the regulation of wetlands, shoreline protection zones and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and would also preclude any County Commission action to modify, readopt or amend said ordinances, regulations or rules after July 1, 2003.
·         HB 703 would prohibit local governments from rescinding a comprehensive plan amendment that authorizes land uses other than agricultural use if the land continues to be used primarily for bona-fide agricultural purposes and qualifies for an agricultural tax classification under s. 193.461. HB 703 would provide a preemption of local government well construction criteria and standards, as well as other changes.
·         Provisions contained in HB 703 undermine the stated purpose of the Community Planning Act as described in Section 163.3161 Florida Statutes which is to utilize and strengthen the existing role, processes, and powers of local governments in the establishment and implementation of comprehensive planning programs to guide and manage future development consistent with the proper role of local government.”
·         Efforts to subvert local control of land use matters are counterproductive to the principals of home rule enshrined in Article VIII, Section 1(f) and 1(g) of the Florida Constitution (1968), and in Section 125.01, Florida Statutes. The revisions to the Community Planning Act of 2011 were intended to strengthen the local government’s ability to address its local issues through its Comprehensive Plan.
·         The purpose of Martin County’s comprehensive planning process is to protect natural and manmade resources and maintain, through orderly growth and development, the character, stability and quality of life for present and future Martin County residents. The Martin County Comprehensive Plan has been recognized as a plan that provides strict environmental protection, contains growth within urban service districts, promotes fiscal conservancy and promotes a human scale of development. The Plan provides immeasurable benefit to our community’s quality of life, and has been cited as a model for other areas of the state and the country that want to retain quality of life.

Martin County Position and REQUEST

HB 703 would undermine home rule, the Community Planning Act and Martin County’s ability to retain its unique comprehensive plan and environmental regulations. The Martin County Board of County Commissioners (MCBOCC) OPPOSES HB 703– Relating to Environmental Regulation and calls on the Florida Legislature to protect home rule, to reaffirm its support of community planning and the Martin County Comprehensive Growth Management Plan.


Contact the Martin County Legislative Delegation, HB 703 Sponsor Jimmy Patronis; and the members of the House Agricultural & Natural Resources Subcommittee and share your feedback on the bill.

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