Urban Service Area


The State of Florida, through its Legislature, adopted several recent changes in laws related to Community Planning, and specifically to projects which are known as Developments of Regional Impact (“DRI’s”). DRI’s are projects which because of their magnitude or character are determined to have extra- jurisdictional impacts and therefore require a different level of review. This review process is coordinated through the Department of Economic Opportunity and involves local, regional and state governmental agencies.

In 2009, the Legislature defined areas known as Dense Urban Land Areas (DULAs), based upon population and the density of such population within a certain geographic area. Such areas were granted an exemption from the DRI process as it was determined that development within such areas was not likely to create extra- jurisdictional impacts. These areas were defined by the State and are annually adjusted based upon changes in population. Since that time, the law has dropped the definition of the “DULA” and simply provides a specific exemption under F.S. 380.06(29)(a) for counties and municipalities which meet certain criteria. Manatee County does not currently meet such criteria; however, certain municipalities within Manatee County do meet them.

In 2011, the Legislature provided a definition within F.S. 163.3164 of an “Urban Service Area”. These areas are determined solely by the local government and recognize the location of existing public facilities and services and areas where these services are intended to be provided and are recognized in the capital improvement element of the local government’s Comprehensive Plan.

Manatee County, like many other coastal counties, has generally developed initially along its coast and then further inland. There are, however, in Manatee County pockets of undeveloped land within the interior portion of the County where existing services are available. It is these unique land areas where the State has encouraged infill development to occur to take advantage of these facilities. For this reason, the Legislature created a specific exemption from the DRI process for such areas (Urban Service Area) under F.S. 380.06(29)(c). This allows development, notwithstanding that it meets certain threshold criteria to be reviewed and processed as a DRI, to be reviewed and processed through the local government within the parameters of its local land use regulations.

Based on the above, the Manatee County Comprehensive Plan was amended to include the definition of the “Urban Service Area”, policies were written to encourage redevelopment and infill and clarification that development would be reviewed against all policies of the Comprehensive Plan. A map illustrating the Urban Service Area boundary was created and became part of the Future Land Use Map series – known as Map K.

Urban Service Area Map