Law Blog


South Florida is experiencing a real estate development resurgence as the market has rebounded considerably from the recession, creating favorable conditions for real estate developers.  A resurgent real estate market, however, means potential new developments and projects such as a multi-family residential apartment complex, a shopping center with multiple anchor stores, or a new high-tech factory located in or near your quiet residential community.  Unfortunately for some homeowners, by the time they realize that such a project is being constructed, and that they have a right to challenge such a development as inconsistent with local comprehensive growth management plans, it is often too late.

Local governments in Florida have the authority to regulate the types of uses and their intensity on properties within their boundaries.  Every city and county in Florida is required to adopt a comprehensive plan that provides “the principles, guidelines, standards, and strategies for the orderly and balanced future economic, social, physical, environmental, and fiscal development of the area that reflects community commitments to implement the plan.” Section 163.3177(1), Florida Statutes.

In accordance with their comprehensive plans, cities and counties adopt future land use maps which chart a course for development within their jurisdictions.  Some examples of land uses identified on future land use maps include low-density residential, high-density residential, commercial, industrial, conservation, and institutional.

A proposed development can only be approved by the local government if it is consistent with the underlying land use for the designated property.  For example, a “low-density residential” land use may restrict real estate development to five (5) residential units per acre.  Any use that would exceed those limits (such as a multi-family apartment complex) would be inconsistent.

However, some local governments in an effort to expand their tax base or increase revenue may amend their land use plans to create land use designations that may be inconsistent with their surrounding area.  A local government may approve a change to the land use map which creates a high density residential area adjacent to a low density residential area.  The end result would be rows of multi-family apartments housing up to 300 families surrounded by single-family homes.  The impacts on traffic and infrastructure would be devastating to the established single-family neighborhood.  These negative impacts are what comprehensive plans are designed to prevent.

Our real estate and land use attorneys can assist you and your neighbors in presenting and preparing valid challenges to local government action.  The key to bringing such a challenge is to act quickly upon receiving notice from the local government of a proposed change to a property’s land use.  Notice is usually in the form of a certified mailing from the city or county, or the appearance of signage on the proposed site of development. Sections 163.3184, 163.3187, and 163.3125, Florida Statutes, provide methods for residents to challenge the decision of the local government which would result in a land use or real estate development that is inconsistent with the city or county’s comprehensive plan.

Contact our office if you would like to challenge an inconsistent development.


~ Jeff Harrington, Esq.