By B.C. Manion
Reviewers from the state Department of Community Affairs have objected to a proposed provision in Hillsborough County community plans that would allow individual property owners to “opt-out” of the plans.
Like Lutz activist Denise Layne, the DCA says that allowing single property owners to choose not to be included in the plan creates uncertainty and undermines the entire purpose of community planning.
Mike McDaniel, chief of the state’s Office of Comprehensive Planning, outlines those and other objections to the county’s proposed Seffner/Mango and Brandon community plans in an Oct. 1 letter to Ken Hagan, chairman of the Hillsborough County Commission.
The county must address the state’s objections to the plans when they resubmit them within 60 days.
While neither of these plans applies directly to Lutz, Layne has sounded an alarm that allowing the “opt-out” provision in any plan could set a dangerous precedent and work against efforts by local residents to have a greater voice about what happens in their communities.
The DCA agrees.
The opt-out provision “undermines the guidance for development established by the community plans and will negate their effectiveness in ensuring the long-range viability of these communities,” state planners found, in their review of the Seffner-Mango and Brandon community plans.
They also note that the provision does not meet a state law that requires comprehensive plans to be internally consistent.
In another observation, the reviewers note that the opt-out provision “renders these community plans not meaningful because the community plans are created in order to implement a vision for development in the community. Allowing certain properties to opt out of the community plans would lead to the development of incompatible land uses and defeat the purpose of creating the community plan. It would result in community plans which are not meaningful and predictable because assurance of the outcome of this planning initiative is uncertain.”
State reviewers have recommended the county revise its plans to remove the opt-out provision “in order to ensure that the implementation of the community plans achieve the land use form that furthers the vision of the citizens of the community.”
The Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission also had raised objections to allowing individual property owners to opt out. Layne also has warned commissioners that there is no case law to support the provision.
County commissioners are expected to take up the issue this month.