The problems and opportunities related to population growth and economic development often transcend local boundaries and the ability of individual local governments to effectively respond to them. Regional planning councils have a duty and unique ability to provide advanced notice of these regional issues and opportunities through its long-range strategic planning efforts. Councils also provide a regional forum to promote communication among local governments for solving their common problems and seizing shared opportunities. In fact, state law recognizes regional planning councils as, “Florida’s only multipurpose regional entity that is in a position to plan for and coordinate intergovernmental solutions to growth-related problems on greater-than-local issues.” It also has a specific duty to undertake activities to promote and facilitate local and regional economic development efforts.
Seven50 does not merely present a vision of the future for the regional planning councils to consider. It is suggested and intended as a business plan for guiding future investments and actions in the region, developed by and for the region, its local governments, and the private sector.
It is intended to provide guidance for all those who are active participants in shaping its future, and for all those who have a role to play in gracefully accommodating the next three million people expected to call this region their home in the next 50 years.
Seven50 should be recognized by local governments as one of the means to influence state and federal policy for the benefit of the region. Strategies are identified under which state and federal rules, regulations, policies, programs, and funding streams can be adjusted and better aligned to support local needs and preserve the unique character of all our communities, whether rural, suburban, or urban.
Seven50 is intended to be a direction-setting document. Its data and assessment of existing and future trends and scenarios are intended to serve as an early warning system, enabling the region and its local governments to better position themselves over the long run to protect and improve their unique characteristics and quality of life.
How local governments respond to and use this information in their decision-making process is up to them. The vision, goals, planning strategies, and ideas outlined in the Seven50 Prosperity Plan are not intended to be a mandate or dictum to local governments, special districts, or citizens in the region. They will be implemented only to the extent local governments are willing to do so and sufficient financial resources are available.
The ideas, strategies and scenarios contained in the Seven50 Prosperity Plan should be reasonably applied where they are economically and environmentally feasible. They should not be contrary to the public interest, and should be consistent with the protection of private property rights. Seven50 does not create new regulatory authority or authorize the adoption of new organizations, rules, criteria or standards. Any standards or strategies included in the Seven50 are to be used for planning purposes only and not for permitting or regulatory purposes.
Lastly, all goals, ideas and planning strategies that utilize directive verbs such as should, shall, and will, should not be interpreted to override the decision-making and fiscal prerogatives of local government. All references to the “Region” in goals, ideas, strategies and background analyses should be taken to mean the region as a whole. It is implicit that all regional goals, strategies, and ideas suggesting shortened review processes, pre-approval, regulatory relief, simplified tax systems, changes to federal funding formulae for returning additional state tax dollars, or other incentives suggested to encourage a more competitive and self-sufficient region, will be carried out within the limits of state and federal law.
-Michael Busha, AICP, Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council
& Jim Murley, AIPC, South Florida Regional Planning Council