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Local Government Comprehensive Plan Certification Program

In July 2004 the Florida Department of Community Affairs, now called the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, approved an agreement with the City of Lakeland regarding certification of the City’s Comprehensive Plan. The State’s Certification program allows communities with outstanding planning practices to become certified through an agreement to monitor a given set of statutorily determined issues that relate to sound planning practices. In return, the local government, if found eligible for certification, is allowed to exempt certain types of comprehensive plan amendments from State review. The exemption only applies to the geographic area certified as regards Future Land Use Map changes. Lakeland’s certification boundaries are depicted in Illustration VIII-6 of the Intergovernmental Coordination Element of the Lakeland Comprehensive Plan: 2010-2020, and may be amended on an annual basis. To see that illustration, please click on the following link:

For text amendments, there are also limits to what may be considered exempt from State review. These exemptions are fully discussed in Chapter 163.3246, Florida Statutes, but the City has put together a quick reference checklist to determine exempt status of proposed amendments by listing all items which could possibly render an amendment not exempt. To see that checklist, click on the following link:

Essentially, an exempt amendment to the Comprehensive Plan may be approved much faster than a non-exempt amendment—up to several months faster. Like all other local governments, certified communities, of which there are only three in the State including Lakeland, are limited to a twice per year opportunity to propose changes to their Comprehensive Plans. Thus, exempt and non-exempt amendments may be put forward at the same time in terms of the initial local public hearings on those amendments. However, exempt amendments can then proceed to adoption within about a month after the first City Commission hearing on the proposed amendment whereas the non-exempt amendments must undergo a period of State review up to 60 days followed by local adoption and another round of State “compliance” review. For a general schedule for processing of amendments in the City of Lakeland, please see the following: Comprehensive Planning Schedule

The City is required each year to summarize activities related to the certification program in a report sent to the State. The City is also required to hold a public hearing on a draft of the monitoring report. The report has several parts including an Executive Summary.