Posted by: Patricia Salkin | February 15, 2018

FL Appeals Court Holds Agricultural Statute Exempted Horse Farm from Building Permit but Not Storm-Water Requirements

This post was authored by Amy Lavine, Esq.

Florida’s statutory zoning exemption for agricultural property uses was
the subject of review in a case decided in January by the Fourth District Court of Appeal. The case provides the first interpretation of the state’s agricultural exemption law since it was amended in 2011, and the court’s decision reflects the intent of those amendments to expand the scope of the agricultural use exemption. The amended law now exempts nonresidential farm buildings from all county and municipal code regulations, in contrast to the pre-2011 law which only applied to building code regulations. Farms are by no means exempt from all local regulations, however, as the exemption is limited to regulations applying to the use of nonresidential farm buildings.

Based on the undisputed facts in this case that the farm’s property was zoned and used for agricultural use, and that its barns, storage facility, and manure bin were nonresidential farm buildings, the court held that the farm was exempt from any zoning or building permit requirements for these structures. The court reached a different conclusion with regard to the farm’s storm-water management violations, however, which resulted from grading work on a driveway that was partially built within a public right-of-way and from the farm’s failure to install a secondary storm-water system. Driveways and storm-water systems are not “nonresidential farm buildings,” the court explained, and thus these regulations were not avoidable under the agricultural exemption. Nothing in the statute, moreover, exempted farms from the need to obtain approval prior to encroaching on a public right-of-way.

14269 BT LLC v. Village of Wellington, 2018 WL 443899 (FL App. 1/17/18)

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