Florida's Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan 2012–2016

Planning in Florida, A Public Policy

The highest-level planning document in Florida state government is the Statewide Comprehensive Plan, (See Chapter 187, Florida Statutes). One of the major features of the statewide historic preservation plan is that it ties in with the larger Comprehensive Plan. Mechanisms for preservation contained in that broad plan provide the framework for Historic Preservation in Florida - More Than Orange Marmalade, 2012–2016.

Florida uses a legislatively mandated planning and budgeting process that is implemented at the state, regional and local levels. There are 11 Regional Planning Councils (RPCs) that adopt, implement, and regularly revise strategic regional policy plans, pursuant to Section 186.507, Florida Statutes. State agencies and RPCs endeavor to coordinate their respective plans, all of which must be consistent with the State Comprehensive Plan. Finally, local governments must have comprehensive plans in place, pursuant to Chapter 163, Part II, Florida Statutes. Optional historic preservation elements may be included in these plans. Local plans must be consistent with the plans of the Regional Planning Councils and the State Comprehensive Plan.

The State Comprehensive Plan (Section 187.201, Florida Statutes) includes goals that directly relate to historic preservation. For URBAN DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATION, the goal is:

  • In recognition of the importance of Florida's vital urban centers and the need to develop and redevelop downtowns to the state's ability to use existing infrastructure and to accommodate growth in an orderly, efficient, and environmentally acceptable manner, Florida shall encourage the centralization of commercial, governmental, retail, residential, and cultural activities within downtown areas.
  • Many of the objectives under this goal utilize the concepts embodied in the Florida Main Street Program.


  • . . . Florida shall increase access to its historical and cultural resources and programs and encourage the development of cultural programs of national excellence.
Objectives related to HISTORIC PRESERVATION under this goal include:
  • Promote and provide access throughout the state to performing arts, visual arts, and historic preservation and appreciation programs at a level commensurate with the state's economic development;
  • Ensure the identification, evaluation, and protection of archaeological folk heritage and historic resources properties of the state's diverse ethnic population;
  • Stimulate increased private sector participation and support for historical and cultural programs;
  • Encourage the rehabilitation and sensitive, adaptive use of historic properties through technical assistance and economic incentive programs; and
  • Ensure that historic resources are taken into consideration in planning of all capital programs and projects at all levels of government and that such programs and projects are carried out in a manner which recognizes the preservation of historic resources.

These goals and objectives are supported by state historic preservation law, the 1967 Florida Archives and History Act (See Chapter 267, Florida Statutes). This law directs the Division of Historical Resources to cooperate with state and federal agencies, local governments, and private organizations and individuals to direct and conduct a comprehensive statewide survey of historic resources, to maintain an inventory of such resources, and to develop a statewide historic preservation plan.

It should be noted that all plans only set directions. Plan policies may be implemented only to the extent that financial resources are provided through legislative appropriation, grants, or funding from other public or private entities. Plans do not create regulatory authority or authorize the adoption of agency rules, criteria, or standards not otherwise authorized by law.

On June 2, 2011, the state of Florida passed the Community Planning Act, which greatly lessened the state's role in land use, giving more control of growth management decisions to local governments. Based on the premise that most local governments have plans that comply with state law and have the ability to maintain those plans with reduced state oversight, the legislation addresses many factors that have created difficulties for development projects. Among the law's new provisions are:

  • The removal of the requirement to establish that there is a "need" for additional land to accommodate growth before approving land use amendments.
  • Repeal of state-mandated "concurrency" for transportation, public school facilities and parks and recreation. Concurrency is a type of adequate public facilities requirement. This change allows local governments to choose whether to retain these concurrency requirements.
  • Revised requirements for calculating and applying transportation proportionate share mitigation, to ensure that development is not required to pay for existing deficiencies or more than their fair share of needed improvements.
  • Repeal of the requirement that local plans be "financially feasible." Many plan amendments have been challenged for not demonstrating the financial feasibility of funding infrastructure needed to support proposed growth.
  • Changes in Rural Land Stewardship Area (RLSA) and Sector Planning programs, which are optional planning processes for very large scale projects.
  • Changes to the Development of Regional Impact (DRI) process, which involves state and regional review of large projects. The changes are likely to reduce the number of projects subject to the DRI process.
  • Removal of the twice-per-year limitation for processing most types of plan amendments.
  • Changes to allow greater use of the small-scale amendment process, which does not entail state and regional review.

These new provisions will diminish the amount of state review required for projects, including state projects that may impact Florida's historical and cultural resources. It is, therefore, imperative that the case for the values of historic preservation be mutually supported by Florida historic preservationists and clearly presented to the public, officials and lawmakers.

Chapter 380 of the Florida Statutes establishes land and water management policies to guide and coordinate local decisions relating to growth and development, including designation of "Areas of Critical State Concern" for which principles guiding development should be adopted. Pursuant to Section 380.05(2)(b), Florida Statutes, areas "containing, or having a significant impact upon, historical or archaeological resources, sites, or statutorily defined historical or archaeological districts, the private or public development of which would cause substantial deterioration or complete loss of such resources, sites, or districts" are eligible for such a designation. The specific criteria to be considered in designating areas under this section—association with events or people significant to state or regional history; containing structures that are architecturally significant; or potential to yield information important to the history or prehistory of the region or state—are consistent with National Register criteria for listing.

Planning is an invaluable tool to identify the major issues that affect preservation efforts around the state. The funding of preservation projects, resource protection, public education, and increased intergovernmental coordination are just a few of the many issues facing Florida's preservationists today. The primary purpose of Florida's historic preservation plan is to provide guidance for the implementation of sound planning procedures for the location, identification, and protection of the state's archaeological and historic resources. Planning uses many tools, including economic and demographic analysis, natural and cultural resource evaluation, goal setting, and strategic planning. The development and implementation of a sound, well-coordinated comprehensive preservation plan should assist Florida's preservation organizations in their efforts to protect Florida's rapidly dwindling historic and archaeological resources.

Planning is most effective when developed in response to the needs of the citizens of the state, and public participation is essential. At each stage, there must be active public involvement in developing the vision, issues, and objectives of the plan and in helping to achieve its goals. It is also necessary to understand changes that are affecting the state as a whole so that preservation programs can be designed to respond in the most effective manner.