UPDATED TO ADDRESS THE 2011 CHANGES TO THE FLORIDA STATUTES.
In the drafting of land development regulations, it is very common to have an intent and purpose section, either in the code language itself or at least in the beginning of the adopting ordinance. Often it is just boilerplate language that lists broad general statements and, after adoption, it is never looked at again. But the intent and purpose statements, if done right, can be very important in setting the goals to be achieved, as well as setting the tone of the regulations. They can also reveal the overall approach of the LDRs – whether they lean toward growth or toward greater preservation of natural resources, whether historic preservation is an important aspect of that jurisdiction, whether it is a rural community or a more urban oriented one, etc.
The Florida Statutes, which require and regulate comprehensive planning and land development regulations (see “Authority to Regulate Land“), also list certain intents or purposes that are supposed to be implemented by the statute provisions (whether they succeed or not is another question). These statements are helpful in two regards – they can be a good source for language to be used in the intent and purpose statement in the LDRs and they also can reveal the viewpoint (or, if you prefer, bias) of the drafter of the statutes.
This latter purpose is important because, even if the actual provisions of the statute do not go as far as what is indicated by the intent statement, when the statute says “it is the intent of the legislature that XYZ happen” then there is a clear orientation or bias toward XYZ. This intent can be used to justify an approach in the LDRs, can be used in an attack on LDRs that you feel don’t go far enough toward the statute bias, or can provide an awareness of the approach the State agencies may take in reviewing Comprehensive Plan Amendments.
Click here ( Intents and purposes of growth management related Florida Statutes) for a summary list of some of the statutory intents and purposes relevant to comprehensive planning and land development regulations.