April 23, 2019 Feature

As the Tide Rolls In: Florida Cities and Counties Adapt to Sea Level Rise with Land-Use Plans

Jane Cynthia Graham

Imagine you are a developer who wants to build a luxury hotel on the beach. If you are unlucky, you might find yourself embroiled in a tangle of federal laws, such as the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and National Historic Preservation Act. However, no matter where you are in the United States, and with even the simplest and cleanest of proposals, you will need to navigate ordinances and approvals from the city and county in which the development is located. The decisions made by local governments across the United States have significant impacts on what communities look like and how they grow: where buildings may be built, how close structures may be located to the beach, compliance with requirements for green building and stormwater management, and so forth. Whereas the federal government deals with big-picture environmental issues, local governments fill the gaps of regulations of the practical, mundane, and seemingly unsexy, ultimately determining the development patterns of cities, towns, and villages across the nation.

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