Read some of our frequently asked questions about the Comprehensive Planning Division.

The State of Florida requires all cities and counties in the State to adopt comprehensive plans. In general, a comprehensive plan is needed to ensure that land development is conducted pursuant to sound planning principles and is closely coordinated with other governmental entities, such as the Regional Planning Council and surrounding jurisdictions.

The Florida Statutes that govern comprehensive planning, now referred to as the "Community Planning Act", provides detailed standards as to the content of comprehensive plans but also for the procedures for amending the adopted plan. Martin County's comprehensive plan was adopted in 1990 and is called the Martin County Comprehensive Growth Management Plan. According to State requirements, the comprehensive plan includes numerous policy statements as well as a Future Land Use Map Series.

Martin County periodically proposes amendments to the Comprehensive Growth Management Plan in light of changed conditions. In September of each year, the Martin County Growth Management Department also accepts applications from private landowners for amendments to the Comprehensive Plan. Most often, private applicants are proposing amendments to the Future Land Use Map.

The Future Land Use Map is adopted as part of the County's Comprehensive Growth Management Plan and is one of the primary tools for managing land development. The Future Land Use designation of a parcel of land determines the general type of use allowed, as well as the maximum level of density or intensity allowed (such as the number of residential units per acre).

The zoning district regulations provide one or more zoning districts for implementing, in more detail, each Future Land Use designation. For example, a parcel of land designated "Low Density Residential" could be zoned to allow multi-family residential dwellings or could be restricted to single-family residences only.

The applicant is typically requesting a change to the Future Land Use Designation in order to change the type of use allowed or to change the maximum amount of development allowed (e.g., the number of residential units per acre or the maximum area of nonresidential development). While an applicant may offer a site plan as part of his or her application, e.g., showing proposed uses and building locations, a site plan is not required until there is an actual proposal to develop.

Ultimately, because an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan is a legislative act, the Board must consider the requested amendment in light of the overall public policy implications, relying on other tools, such as the zoning code and the development review process, to ensure that the property is developed in a manner consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

Not necessarily. Amendments to the Comprehensive Plan can only be approved by the Board of County Commissioners after a series of public hearings. Requested plan amendments may be modified or even denied by the Board. Applications are sometimes withdrawn by the applicant prior to final action.

If you have seen a yellow sign posted on a parcel of land or have received a notice in the mail, it is because applicants are required by the County to provide such notice. The County has voluntarily created these notice requirements, which are much more stringent than required by the Florida Statutes, in order to maximize public involvement in the process.

A successful amendment to the Future Land Use Map typically takes about 12 months. According to county policies, applicants may submit requests for amendments to the Comprehensive Plan once a year. The proposed amendments require at least three public hearings, as follows:

  • Local Planning Agency (which makes a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners)
  • Board of County Commissioners to determine whether the proposed amendment should be transmitted to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and other state and regional agencies, and
  • Board of County Commissioners (to determine whether the proposed amendment should be adopted.

Notice to surrounding property owners is required as well as public notices published in the local newspaper. All interested persons are invited to attend any or all of the above-described hearings and will have an opportunity to speak. The Local Planning Agency conducts its meetings after 7 p.m.

All application files are available for public inspection during business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday) at the Growth Management Department, Martin County Administrative Center, 2401 S.E. Monterey Road Stuart, Florida 34996. Written comments are included as part of the public record of the application.

All information submitted by the applicant, such as maps, aerial photographs and the justification for the proposed amendment are available for review in the Growth Management Department. A detailed analysis of the proposed amendment is provided in the Growth Management Department's "staff report".

The staff report typically becomes available about one to two weeks prior to the first scheduled public hearing and is updated from time-to-time throughout the process. The staff report includes an executive summary of the request, along with the recommendation of approval or denial.

Growth Management Director
Growth Management Department
Martin County Administrative Center
2401 S.E. Monterey Road
Stuart, Florida 34996

Applicants are generally required to provide notice by mail to all property owners within 500 feet of the subject parcel, notifying them of any upcoming public hearings involving the request. The Growth Management Department also publishes a notice in the Stuart News at least 14 days prior to any public hearing for any proposed comprehensive plan amendment.

View the 2017-2018 Summary Request Sheet

After the second hearing, the Board of County Commissioners transmits the amendment to the state and regional reviewing agencies. The state and regional reviewing agencies are required to review the amendment to ascertain if there are any impacts to important state resources and facilities and to provide their comments, if any, directly to the local government within 30 days of the agency receipt of the amendments.

The third public hearing, called an adoption hearing, must be held within 180 days after the receipt of the reviewing agencies comments. If adopted, the County has ten days to send the amendment adoption package to the State Land Planning Agency. The State Land Planning Agency has five days to find the amendment adoption package complete.

The effective date of a plan amendment, if the amendment is not timely challenged, is 31 days after the state land planning agency notifies the local government that the final plan amendment package is complete.