State-mandated private property rights amendment to county’s Comprehensive Plan to be focus of Sept. 15 virtual workshop

Event to begin at 5:30 p.m.

This is the cover of the first volume of the Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan, which was updated in October 2016. Image courtesy Sarasota County

At 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 15, Sarasota County Planning and Development Services Department staff will host a workshop on a proposed, publicly initiated amendment to the county’s Comprehensive Plan involving “a state-mandated Property Rights Element Chapter,” the staff has announced.

The event will not be a public hearing, the notice stresses. The purpose of the workshop is for staff to provide information about the proposed amendment and to accept public comments, the notice says.

Formally, the proposed amendment has been classified No. 2021-H. In unanimously approving their Aug. 24 Consent Agenda of routine business items, the county commissioners agreed to allow staff to process it.

A county staff memo provided to the board members in advance of that meeting explained that the Florida Legislature adopted House Bill 59 during its session this year, and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed that bill into law.

“Although limited guidance is provided to local governments about goal, objective, and policy requirements,” the memo continued, “the bill does provide a model statement of property rights a local government may adopt to satisfy this requirement. Included in the model statement,” the memo added, is a set of four property rights “that shall be considered in the local decision-making process when regulating land. It is anticipated that these four statements of rights will make up the bulk of this new element.”

House Bill 59 calls for governmental entities to “respect judicially acknowledged and constitutionally protected private property rights.”

The bill adds, “The following rights shall be considered in local [decision making]:

  • “The right of a property owner to physically possess and control his or her interests in the property, including easements, leases, or mineral rights.
  • “The right of a property owner to use, maintain, develop, and improve his or her property for personal use or for the use of any other person, subject to state law and local ordinances.
  • “The right of the property owner to privacy and to exclude others from the property to protect the owner’s possessions and property.
  • “The right of a property owner to dispose of his or her property through sale or gift.”

Additionally, the bill amended Section 163.3237 of the Florida Statues to say, “A party or its designated successor in interest to a development agreement and a local government may amend or cancel a development agreement without securing the consent of other parcel owners whose property was originally subject to the development agreement, unless the amendment or cancellation directly modifies the allowable uses or entitlements of such owners’ property.”

This is a portion of Florida Statute 163.3177. Image courtesy State of Florida

Further, the Aug. 24 staff memo emphasized that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has determined that the language in House Bill 59 requires local governments to adopt the private property rights element “prior to moving forward with any other proposed comprehensive plan amendments submitted after July 2, 2021. This would put a hold on any amendments submitted after [that date].”

Therefore, the memo pointed out, “[S]taff desires to begin the process for developing this amendment as soon as possible.”

The amendment will necessitate a county Planning Commission hearing and two County Commission hearings.

The Sept. 15 workshop will be conducted via Zoom, the Planning and Development notice points out.

This is the link to join the workshop:

Anyone wishing to listen to the workshop via telephone may dial 888-475-4499 or 877-853-5257, both of which numbers are toll-free, the notice says.

A person wishing more information about the workshop may call the county Contact Center at 941-861-5000 or email