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FAQ - Land Use Category

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Q: What is the land use classification (zoning) of my property?

A:  The land use classification determines the list of approved uses, and the parameters for which they may be developed. Land Use classifications are established by the Comprehensive Plan, and specific development requirements are within the Land Development Code. Land uses are displayed graphically on the Future Land Use Map Series. A property owner can find out their land use by providing the Land Development Division's Planner-On-Call (which can be contacted by email at: planneroncall@polk-county.net or by calling 863-534-6084) with the property parcel identification number.

Q: How do I find out the land use for my property?

A: Usage depends on the classification or district that the property falls within. Certain districts allow different types of land development and land use activities on a property. To find out the use for your property contact the planner on call at 863-534-6084 or planneroncall@polk-county.net. Please provide your property parcel identification number (see below to obtain your number) when making contact with the planner. You may also utilize the County GIS Viewer for more detailed information on your parcel. Table 2.2 of the Land Development Code also provides detail on permitted uses, conditional uses, setbacks etc.

Q: How do I find out what the parcel identification number is for my property?

A: The parcel identification number for a property can be found through the Property Appraiser by providing a physical address or the name of the property owner to one of the associates at the Property Appraiser's office. This identification number can also be found on a property owner’s tax statement form or by going to the property Appraisers website at http://www.polkpa.org

The parcel identification number consists of 18 digits. 

  • The first six digits represent the Range, Township and Section of the property. 
  • The second set of six digits represents the subdivision number of the property. (If the property in question is not in a subdivision, the second set of digits will be represented by all zeros.)
  • And the third and final set of 6 digits represent the where the parcel is located with the Section Township, Range and Subdivision.

Q: What can I do with my property?

A: The type of uses a property owner can do with their property depends on what type of land use classification or district that property falls within. Certain districts allow different types of land development and land use activities on a property. (To find out what type of uses one can do on their property, please contact the Planner on Call at 863-534-6084, or by email: planneroncall@polk-county.net.  When calling or emailing the Planner on Call, please provide the 18 digit parcel identification number (for information on what and where the Parcel ID number is, see FAQ above).

Further information regarding the parcels Land Use may also be researched online by using the Parcel ID number and our GIS Data Viewer. After finding our the Land Use of the parcel through our GIS Data Viewer, Table 2.2 of the Land Development Code (located her on Growth Management's web site) will be useful in determining permitted uses, conditional uses, setbacks and etc.

Q: How can I change the land use (zoning) for my Property? How much does it cost and how long will it take?

A: To change the land use of a property one must apply for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA) to change the land use on the Future Land Use Map Series. This process will incorporate a Level 4 Review through the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC). The time frame associated with a land use change may range between 4 to 9 months depending on the size of the property. * Small scale map amendment, <10 acres = $1,300 + $400 for advertising = $1,700. * Large scale map amendment, >10 acres = $1,500 + $800 for advertising = $2,300. * Large scale map amendment within a Selected Area Plan (SAP), > 10 acres $ 2,000 + $800 = $2,800. * Any large scale map amendment > 10 acres has to pay an additional $15 per acre. * Properties 10 acres or larger or those of any size located in the Green Swamp (an area of critical state concern), will be subject to a review by the State Department of Community Affairs (DCA). For a more complete list of fees, please see our Schedule of Fees. To view the current Comprehensive Amendment Schedule, please click here.

Q: What does that acronym stand for?

A: 

Acronyms Commonly Used in the

Land Development Code

A/RR

Agriculture/Residential-Rural

BOA

Board of Adjustment

BoCC

Board of County Commissioners

BPC

Business Park Center

CAC

Community Activity Center

CC

Convenience Centers

CE

Commercial Enclave

CPA

Comprehensive Plan Amendment

CU

Conditional Use

DCA

Department of Community Affairs

DEP

Department of Environmental Protection

DRC

Development Review Committee

DRI

Development of Regional Impact

EC

Employment Center

FLUM

Future Land Use Map

FS

Florida Statutes

GSACSC

Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern

HIC

High Impact Commercial

IND

Industrial

L/R

Leisure Recreation

LCC

Linear Commercial Corridor

LDC

Land Development Code

LOS

Level of Service

MFR

Multi Family Residential

NAC

Neighbor Activity Center

OC

Office Center

PC

Planning Commission

PD

Planned Development

PIX

Public Institutional (SAP only)

PM

Phosphate Mining

PUD

Planned Unit Development

RAC

Regional Activity Center

RDA

Rural Development Area (no urban services)

RH

Residential High (10-15 du/ac)

RM

Residential Medium (5-10 du/ac)

RMD

Rural Mixed-Use Development

ROS

Recreation Open Space

ROW

Right-of-Way

RRD

Rural Resisidential Development

RS

Residential Suburban

RV

Recreational Vehicle

SAP

Selected Area Plan

SAS

Selected Area Study

SE

Special Exception

SFR

Single Family Residential

SFWMD

South Florida Water Management District

SPA

Special Protection Area (Green Swamp)

SWFWMD

Southwest Florida Water Management District

TC

Town Center

TCC

Tourist Commercial Center

TPO

Transportation Planning Organization

TSE

Temporary Special Exception

UDA

Urban Development Area

UEA

Utility Enclave Area

UGA

Urban Growth Area

Q: Can I put a mobile home on my property? What procedures do I follow?

A: There are no separate districts for mobile homes. Their placement depends on their location relative to development within the area.  Mobile homes may be permitted in all of the following locations: 

  • Within any registered mobile home park that has been approved by Polk County;
  • Within any platted residential subdivision that has been approved by Polk County as a mobile home subdivision;
  • Within any platted residential subdivision, or single platted phase within a multiple phased development, in which 50 percent or more of the developed lots contain mobile homes;
  • On any un-platted parcel in the A/RR district;
  • On any un-platted parcel that is five acres or larger in the RS district;
  • On any un-platted parcel where 50 percent or more of all contiguous residential lots or parcels are developed with mobile homes. Contiguous lots and parcels are those that share a common boundary, but not including those that intersect only at a corner point. Lots or parcels that are otherwise contiguous except for intervening local roads shall be considered contiguous for this calculation; and,
  • On any residential lot or parcel where it is determined by the Planning Commission to be compatible with the established character of the surrounding area.

* With the placement of a mobile home, the applicant shall meet stair and skirting requirements (Section 715) of the Land development Code. In addition, the placement of used mobile homes will have to meet the requirements of Section 716, pertaining to pre-inspection, fire safety, construction, electrical, and plumbing standards.

Q: Can I have a business at my home?

A: One may run a business out of their home in any land use district within the following parameters:

  1. Home occupations conforming with Section 206 of the Polk County Land Development Code and located within the principal dwelling unit shall be allowed without further County approval;
  2. A maximum of one person who is not a member of the immediate family residing on the premises may be employed in the operation of a home occupation;
  3. Regardless of the location of the home occupation, the principal dwelling unit on the property shall be the bona fide residence of the home occupation practitioner. The home occupation shall be clearly incidental and secondary to the property's use for residential purposes;
  4. No home occupation may occupy more than 25 percent of the gross habitable ground floor area of the principal dwelling unit;
  5. Traffic generated by the proposed use must not negatively impact the safety, ambiance and characteristics of the residential neighborhood. The increase to existing traffic created by the home occupation shall not exceed ten additional trips per day. The assumption is that each residential site generates ten trips per day. Therefore, a home occupation may not exceed 20 trips per day;
  6. No display of merchandise or outside storage of equipment or materials shall be permitted;
  7. No alterations shall be made to the external appearance of any principal or accessory structures or of the property which changes the character of the site from residential to non-residential;
  8. No equipment or process used in the home occupation shall create noise, vibration, glare, fumes, electromagnetic interference, odors or air pollution outside the building;
  9. One non-illuminated business identification sign mounted flush to the dwelling unit and not more than two square feet in area shall be allowed;
  10. No storage of hazardous materials, other than substances of a type and quantity customarily associated with a home or hobby, shall be permitted;
  11. All home occupation practitioners shall obtain an occupational license;
  12. The following uses are examples of home occupations:
  1. Activities conducted principally by telephone, computer, facsimile, or mail;
  2. Studios where handicrafts or objects-of-art are produced
  3. Teaching and tutoring instruction of no more than four pupils at a time
  4. Dressmaking or apparel alterations
  5. Barber and beauty shop (one chair);
  1. Home occupations located other than within the principal dwelling unit (e.g. within an accessory structure or garage) shall be allowed as an accessory use pursuant to a Level 3 Review, and,
  2. The following are prohibited as home occupations:
  1. Adult entertainment
  2. Automotive service and repair;
  3. Bed and breakfast;
  4. Churches;
  5. Eating and drinking establishments;
  6. Kennels;
  7. Manufacturing;
  8. Tanning Salons, tattoo parlors, massage parlors;
  9. Commercial sales or leasing of vehicles;
  10. Any use that requires a Building Code upgrade (i.e., from residential standards to commercial standards) to accommodate the home occupation;

Q: Can I subdivide my land to give or sell property to a family member?

A: To subdivide a property the property must meet the gross density required within the land use in which it fall within. (Ex: The Agriculture Rural Residential (A/RR) land use requires a minimum of five acres to place one dwelling unit on a property. If the property owner has a 10 acre tract of land he/she can do a one time split as long as each property has a minimum of five acres and has access off a county maintained road or a road meeting county standards per the Land Development Code).

*If the property is located within the Agricultural/Residential Rural (A/RR) and Residential Suburban (RS) land use designations and has less than the required five acre minimum property size, the property owner has the option of applying for a Family Homestead, Density Exemption that requires the following criteria:

A density exemption for a family homestead is allowed subject to the following requirements:

  1. Said uses are only permitted in the A/RR and RS districts;
  2. Lots shall be for the use of immediate family members of the owner of the parent parcel only. Immediate family shall mean parents, stepparents, grandparents, siblings children, stepchildren, and grandchildren. The family homestead provision may only be used once by each relative. The application shall provide the name and relationship of the family members;
  3. All applicable district regulations in Table 2.2 shall apply to family homestead lots, except that the minimum lot size for family homestead lots within the A/RR and RS districts may be reduced to one acre;
  4. All lots shall meet the road frontage requirements of Section 705, but may be exempt from paving requirements. When possible, the parent parcel and all sub-parcels shall share one access driveway;

The division of lots for family homestead purposes shall be recorded by separate deeds before any building permit is issued. If two or more lots are divided from the parent parcel, the subdivision requirements of Chapter 8 shall apply. 

*The Family Homestead, Density Exemption shall only apply to family members who are going to live on the property.  If the family member for whom the family Homestead, Density Exemption was granted for moves away, the land can not be sold and must return to the parent parcel.

Q: Is a subdivision plat required to divide property?

A: No, a subdivision plat is not a requirement when doing a one time split of a property. A subdivision plat will be required if a piece of property is split more than once, and additionally will have to meet all the subdivision regulations in Chapter 8 of the Land Development Code.

Q: What is the process for development approval?

A: The process for development approval depends on the level of review a proposed project or development falls under. (Chapters 2 and 9 of the Land Development Code are helpful in determining the types of reviews needed.)  If a project falls under a Level 2 Review the applicant shall submit either residential or non-residential engineered site plans, which then needs to be approved through the Development Review Committee (DRC). This could range from a one month to three month approval period pending that the applicant meets all the criteria associated with their project. If a project has to go through a Level 3 Review the applicant has about a three month period to obtain approval, but then that project still has to go through a Level 2 Review. In some cases a project shall go through all levels of review before final approval.

Q: What is my first step in getting development approval?

A: The first step in getting development approval is to talk to the Planner on Call at 863-534-6084, or by email at mailto:planneroncall@polk-county.net to find out what level of review you must apply for and to find out if the use you propose is permitted on your property.

Q: How do I get an application for land use change?

A: To apply for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment for a land use change one shall obtain a Level 3 and 4 application from the Land Development Division.

Q: Can I get a copy of the land use map for the are where my land is located?

A: 11"x17" color copies of the Future Land Use Maps are available at the UPS store in Bartow (Located in the Publix shopping plaza).  Larger maps (36"x36") can be purchases through the Land Development Division at a cost of $25.00 each.

Q: What is the population of the county and is there a way to get more information on census and demographics?

A: The estimated population for Polk County at this time is 542,912 people. To obtain more census and demographic information please visit the US Census Bureau at http://www.census.gov/ or the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at http://www.bebr.ufl.edu/.

Q: What is concurrency?

A: Concurrency: The requirement that new development can only occur where public facilities are available in the necessary quantity, capacity, and quality to maintain the adopted level-of-service standards for public facilities.

Q: What if I need written confirmation of my land use? How long will it take and will there be a charge?

A: The Land Development Division can provide a written confirmation of ones land use.  Requests should be sent to the attention of Eric Peterson.  The charge for a confirmation letter for land use is $25.00 (if paying by check, please make check payable to Polk County BoCC).  Additional charges may apply if additional research is needed. The drafting of the letter will be within one to ten business days of receiving the request after which it will be mailed out. 

Q: How can I contact someone within the Land Development Division to find out more information? 

A: The department provides the public with two on-call staff members Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (excluding holidays) to assist with land use information. These staff members can be located in the Growth Management Customer Service Area on the first floor of the Administration Building located at 330 West Church Street in Bartow.  Growth Management Customer Service (also known as Planner on Call) can be contacted by phone at 863-534-6084; by fax at 863-534-6021; or by email at: planneroncall@polk-county.net.

Q: What is a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) and how might that affect my plans to develop my property?

A: A Development of Regional Impact (DRI) is any development which, because of its character, magnitude or location, would have a substantial effect upon the health, safety, or welfare of citizens of more than one county. DRIs are regulated by Section 380.06 Florida Statutes and Chapter 28-24 and Rule 9J-2 Florida Administrative Code. These establish processes for review and thresholds for determining if a development is a DRI based on the following; (See table for the most common numerical thresholds; this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Fixed numerical thresholds-

    • 80 percent or below are not required to undergo DRI review;
    • At or above 120 percent, must undergo DRI review;
    • Development that creates at least 100 jobs and meets the criteria of The Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development and are at or below 100 percent of threshold are not required to undergo DRI review;
  • Rebuttable Presumptions- it is accepted that:

    • Development that is at 80 to 100 percent is not required to undergo DRI review, but must complete a Binding Letter; and
    • Development that is at 100 to 120 percent is required to undergo a DRI review.
    • The more stringent threshold applies, if a project is located within two miles of another jurisdiction.

Land Use

Criteria

80%

100%

Hospitals Beds 480 680
Industrial Plants/Parks, Distribution, Warehousing/Wholesaling Facilities Parking Space Acres 2,000,256 2,500,320
Mining Operations Acres Million Gallons per Day of Water 802.4 1003.0
Office Development Gross sq.ft Acres 240,000
24
300,000.30
Residential Development Dwelling units (sliding scale based upon size of community) 1,600 2,000
Hotel/Motel Development Rooms 280 350
Retail and Service Development Gross sq.ft Ares Parking Spaces 320,000
322,000

400,000.40

2,500

Schools Full Time Equivalent Students Expansion in design population Check with DRI Coordinator
Airport Expansion of Runway/Terminal Percentage increases Gross sq.ft 25% 50,000
Petroleum Storage Facilities Barrels (w/in 1,000 ft of navigable water) Barrels - all others 40,000
160,000
50,000
200,000
Recreational Vehicle Development Spaces 400 500
Multi-Use 12 Developments
  1. Two or more land uses (consistent with this list of threshold uses)
  2. Three or more land uses, one of which is residential with at least  100 dwelling units or 15% of the applicable residential threshold, whichever is greater.
116 145

For all other questions please contact the Growth Management Department by email, phone (863-534-6084); or fax (863-534-6021). The office hours are Monday-Friday between 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. (excluding holidays).




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