ACTION ALERT: Martin County’s four-story height limit challenged at LPA and BOCC meetings

The four-story height limitation that so visibly distinguishes Martin County from its neighbors to the north and south is being challenged in the form of proposed changes to the county’s Comprehensive Growth Management Plan. If you want to help defend this essential element of the “Martin County difference” please consider showing your support at one or both of the following meetings:

Thursday, October 5, 7 PMLPA (Local Planning Agency) meeting at the Commission Chambers in the Martin County Administrative Building at 2401 SE Monterey Rd in Stuart.

Tuesday, October 24, 9 AM. BOCC (Board of County Commissioners) meeting at the Commission Chambers in the Martin County Administrative Building at 2401 SE Monterey Rd in Stuart.

Every individual is allowed up to 3 minutes for public comment (details here). You can also submit written comments in person or via email to the BOCC. If you don’t want to speak you can still show up and support those who do speak on behalf of supporting the current, unamended Plan language.

If you need additional information please contact Jackie Trancynger at 772-232-0837 or

See information on the proposed amendment changes below.

Excerpts from  the Martin County EAR-based Comprehensive Plan Amendment Review:

The EAR, is a required part of the State growth management process and could be generally described as a mechanism for determining whether the need exists to amend the County’s Comprehensive Growth Management Plan. Due to changes made by the Florida Legislature in 2011 via the Community Planning Act, local governments no longer need to submit evaluation and appraisal reports to the State reviewing agencies. Instead, local governments, at least every seven years, pursuant to Rule Chapter 73C-49, Florida Administrative Code, must determine if a need exists to amend the comprehensive plan to reflect changes in state requirements since the last time the comprehensive plan was updated. Additionally, the Martin County Comprehensive Growth Management Plan contains requirements for continuing evaluation and requires that evaluation and appraisal reports be reviewed by the Local Planning Agency and approved by the Board of County Commissioners.

Policy 2.1A.1., concerning the measurement of building height is proposed for change to prevent a takings claim and potential litigation.

Amendments to the Land Development Regulations were proposed implementing height restrictions found in Policy 2.1A.1.(3). That effort ceased when it was determined the Plan text creates a potential property rights taking for land owners on Hutchinson Island. There are four different methods of measuring building height in different sections of the Martin County Land Development Regulations. Staff proposes to delete portions of Policy 2.1A.1.(3) to prevent a claim of taking until a single method of measuring building height can be crafted Please see the attached excerpts of the four different methods of measuring building height found in the Land Development Regulations.
Goal 2.1. Martin County shall broaden, enhance, and protect the quality of life of Martin County residents.
Objective 2.1A.

note: underlined text has been proposed for deletion.
The following text may cause a property owner on Hutchinson Island to claim a taking of property rights. Staff recommends striking it until the four methods of measuring building height in the Land Development Regulations can be revised without a potential for a taking claim. This change was not presented to the LPA on August 17, 2017.
Policy 2.1A.1: No land uses or development shall:
(1) Exceed 15 units per acre.
(2) Have more than four stories including those unenclosed lower floors used for storage, parking or other purposes. Rebuilding of oceanfront structures on Hutchinson Island to the original building configuration shall not be considered inconsistent with this policy.
(3) Be more than 40 feet high. Building height shall be measured from the average finished grade at the perimeter of the building, except in flood hazard areas. In flood hazard areas building height shall be measured from the base flood elevation requirement for the lowest floor as shown on the flood insurance rate map published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Building height shall be the difference between the finished grade or the base flood elevation described above and either the highest point of the coping of a flat roof, the deck line of a mansard roof, or the mean height level between eaves and ridge of gable, hip, and gambrel roofs. The mean height level between the ridge and the eaves shall be determined on the highest section of roof. Limited exceptions shall be allowed for structures such as church steeples, roof structures, utility poles, park lighting, emergency structures, agricultural and industrial structures, and communications facilities as detailed in Article 3. Section 3.14, Land Development Regulations, Martin County Code on August 13, 2013.

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