Title: Summary of Florida historic preservation law
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Title: Summary of Florida historic preservation law
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Language: English
Creator: McLendon, Timothy
Publisher: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: June 2008
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Florida Environmental and Land Use Law June 2008
Summary of Florida Historic Preservation Law

Summary of Florida Historic Preservation Law

Timothy McLendon
University of Florida College of Law, Gainesville, Florida;
J.D., University of Florida, 1994;
A.B., Duke University, 1989.

I. Introduction
Historic preservation laws are a variation of the land use laws commonly employed by local
governments. They differ from ordinary zoning in that the primary concern of a historic
preservation ordinance is not density or usage, but maintaining the appearance of historic
structures and the visual integrity of historic districts. In this way they are akin to aesthetic
zoning, such as the regulation of signs. Even so, they are treated by the courts as a type of
zoning or land use ordinance and are governed by the same constraints, whether political or

This article sets forth an overview of historic preservation law in Florida, including a
survey of the federal and state roles in historic preservation. However, local government
ordinances remain the most important component in preserving historic resources, and a
discussion of local land use regulations to protect and incentives to encourage historic
preservation occupies the greater portion of this article. The reader is also referred to separate
articles on constitutional issues related to historic preservation, on Florida's private property
protection legislation, and on the related field of aesthetic zoning, all of which have a close
relationship to the field of historic preservation.

II. Overview of Federal and State Roles in Historic Preservation

A. Historic Preservation and the Federal Government

Matters of historic preservation remain predominately the preserve of state and local
governments. This is because of the essentially local nature of all land use decisions.
Nevertheless, the federal government plays a limited though important role in historic
preservation. The contribution of the federal government lies in two major areas: first, federal
statutes, such as the National Historic Preservation Act, which set forth national policy on
historic preservation and regulates the impact of federal projects on historically significant
properties; and second, in the role played by certain federal agencies, most notably the National
Park Service, as administrators of certain historic resources and coordinators of historic
programs. A final federal issue is the use of federal income tax policy to promote historic
preservation and rehabilitation.

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Florida Environmental and Land Use Law June 2008
Summary of Florida Historic Preservation Law

The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), 16 U.S.C. sections 470 470x-6,
establishes the National Register of Historic Places and authorizes the Secretary of Interior to
designate properties as historic landmarks, and to set forth criteria for landmark designation. 16
U.S.C. 470a (2008). Properties listed in the National Register enjoy certain federal procedural
safeguards. The Act requires that any federal agency with direct or indirect control over
proposed federal, federally-assisted or federally-authorized projects must consider the effects on
any district or site included, or eligible to be included,2 in the National Register before approving
the expenditure of federal funds or granting any federal license or permit.3 16 U.S.C. 470f
(2008). The State Historic Preservation Officer means the official within each State designated
by the Governor or a State statute to act as liaison for purposes of administering historic
preservation programs within that State." 36 C.F.R. 67.2. The State Historic Preservation
Officer identifies and nominates properties to the National Register of Historic Places. 36 C.F.R.
60.6; see 267.061(5), Fla. Stat. (2008) (providing for the State Historic Preservation Officer).
This process is known as Section 106 review. NHPA also establishes the State Historic
Preservation Programs and provides for the certification of local governments' preservation
programs by the National Park Service. The Certified Local Government Program will be
discussed later in this work.

1 Sites and structures that qualify for the National Register are those:
that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of [American] history;
that are associated with the lives of persons significant in [that history]; or that embody the distinctive characteristics
of a type, period, or method of construction ... that represent the work of a master ... that possess high artistic
values, that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction, or
that have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.
36 C.F.R. 60.4. These criteria, modified to suit local conditions and priorities, are included in many local historic
preservation ordinances. See, e.g., Metropolitan Dade County v. P.J. Birds, Inc., 654 So. 2d 170 (Fla. 3d DCA)
(upholding Dade County's preservation criteria, which were substantially the same as the National Register criteria).
For a general discussion of federal laws and conventions impacting historic preservation, see Marilyn Phelan, A
Synopsis of the Laws ,. ,.r. ',,i Our Cultural Heritage, 28 NEW ENG. L. REV. 63, 66-79 (1993).

2 The NHPA was amended in 1976 to expand its application to property "eligible for inclusion" in the
National Register. 16 U.S.C. 470(f) (2008). Courts have ruled that eligible property includes any property which
meets the National Register Criteria, regardless of whether it has been officially so designated. Boyd v. Roland, 789
F.2d 347, 349 (5th Cir. 1986).

3 Section 106 of NHPA is limited in scope in that it only applies to federal agencies, and exempts states from
coverage where no federal funding or permits are used. See Lee v. Thornburgh, 877 F.2d 1053, 1056 (D.C. Cir.
1989); cf 16 U.S.C. 4 -1\\ (2). Section 106 review usually involves identification of properties protected by the
Act and consultation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the local State Historic Preservation
Officer on the best means of mitigating harmful effects to listed or eligible properties. In addition, most states,
including Florida, have established a state equivalent to Section 106 review for projects involving state agencies or
funding. See 267.061(2), Fla. Stat. (2008) (Florida equivalent to the Section 106 review process).

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Florida Environmental and Land Use Law June 2008
Summary of Florida Historic Preservation Law

Two other federal laws significantly impact historic preservation. The National
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), codified at 42 U.S.C. sections 4321-70a, although first and
foremost a natural environment protection act, also requires environmental impact statements for
federal and federally-assisted projects which "significantly affect the quality of the human
environment."4 42 U.S.C. 4332(C) (2008). NEPA requires the federal government to "use all
practicable means ... to improve and coordinate Federal plans, functions, programs, and
resources to the end that the Nation may . preserve important historic, cultural and natural
aspects of our national heritage."5 Id. at 1563-64. 42 U.S.C. 4331(b)(4) (2008). For more
generally on NEPA and a discussion of cases involving impact statements, see Daniel R.
Mandelker, NEPA Law and Litigation (1991); Sherry Hutt et al., Heritage Resources Law;
Protecting the Archeological and Cultural Environment, 75-105 (1999); Joseph Z. Fleming &
Paul C. Savage, Analysis of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Florida
Environmental and Land Use Law, 16-1 (Fla. Bar Envtl & Land Use L. Section, 2006).

The Department of Transportation Act, Section 4(f), 49 U.S.C. 303, contains a further
federal protection of historic resources. Applicable to federal or federally approved
transportation projects, Section 4(f) prevents such projects where they would impact any historic
site, public park, recreation area or wildlife refuge unless no feasible alternative exists to the
project and unless the project minimizes harm to historic or natural resources.

NHPA, NEPA and Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act are significant in
requiring federal projects to mitigate any harm they would cause to historic resources, much as
they seek to minimize harm to the natural environment. Nevertheless, most risks to historic
resources do not involve federal projects, and for these, local and state protection is required.

4 NEPA establishes the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to review government programs in light of
the policies announced in NEPA. The CEQ has published guidelines for the preparation of Environmental Impact
Statements in C.F.R. Part 1500.
5 A recent NEPA case in Florida, Protect Key West, Inc. v. Cheney, 795 F. Supp. 1552 (S.D. Fla. 1992)
involved a challenge to an Environmental Assessment (EA) prepared by the Navy on a proposed housing
construction project in Key West close to the city's historic district. The federal district court found that the Navy's
EA failed to meet the standards of NEPA. The court recited the standards evaluating the need for an Environmental
Impact Statement under NEPA:
S whether the agency took a "hard look" at the problem;
S whether the agency identified the relevant areas of environmental concern;
S as to the problem studied and identified, whether the agency made a convincing case that the
impact was insignificant; and
S if there was impact of true significance, whether the agency convincingly established that the
changes in the project sufficiently reduced it to a minimum. Id. at 1559. The district court granted
an injunction against construction of the project until the Navy completed a complying
Environmental Assessment. Id.

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Florida Environmental and Land Use Law June 2008
Summary of Florida Historic Preservation Law

B. The State Role in Historic Preservation

The Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources is primarily responsible for
state policy and programs. 267.031, Fla. Stat. (2008). The Bureau of Historical Resources is
responsible for Florida's preservation policy and for the cooperation and assistance provided to
local governments.6 The Bureau of Historical Resources also works with the National Park
Service to run the Certified Local Government Program in Florida. The Certified Local
Government Program was established under the National Historic Preservation Act, and is
administered jointly by the National Park Service and state preservation offices. Under the
NHPA, local governments which have established that historic preservation programs meeting
certain federal and state requirements may participate in the Certified Local Government (CLG)
program. Benefits of CLG participation include eligibility for special grants, technical assistance
and training, participation in the National Register nomination process for local properties.7
Every certified local government may apply to the Bureau of Historic Resources for grants from
Florida's annual apportionment from the federal Historic Preservation Fund. Federal law requires
that at least ten percent of the amount transferred annually to the State of Florida under the
NHPA be distributed to certified local governments.8 16 U.S.C. 470c.; 267.0612, 267.0617,
Fla. Stat. (2008); see also 1 Fla. Admin. Code R. 1A-35.005 (sources of grant funds for historic
preservation grants-in-aid). Two categories of activities are funded by grants-in-aid from the
Historic Preservation Trust Fund: Acquisition and Development Activities, and Survey and

6 267.031(5), Fla. Stat. (2008). The Bureau identifies and nominates properties for inclusion in the
National Register of Historic Places and assists local governments with applications for listing. Finally, the Bureau
of Historic Resources is charged with drawing up the historic preservation element of the Florida Comprehensive
Plan and with working with the Department of Community Affairs to review Historic Preservation Elements of local
comprehensive plans.

7 General federal procedures for CLG certification are contained in 36 C.F.R. 61. The CLG program under
the National Historic Preservation Act must be distinguished, however, from the certification of local historic
districts or preservation ordinances for federal tax incentive purposes pursuant to 36 C.F.R. 67.9.

8 The Act also provides that whenever more than $65,000,000 is transferred to the states by the federal
government, one half of these excess funds shall be transferred to certified local governments. Id. Procedures and
specific requirements for applications by local governments for these grants-in-aid are found in Florida Certified
Local Government Guidelines, Pt. C.3 (2002): 36 C.F.R. 61.6, 61.7. In Florida, grants-in-aid are awarded by the
Florida Historical Commission, which also awards funds from the state Historic Preservation Trust Fund. Monies
transferred by the federal government to the state under NHPA are deposited in the Trust Fund, as are thirty percent
of the corporation registration fees transferred from the Corporations Trust Fund and those funds authorized by the
Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering from charity racing days. See 550.0351(2), Fla. Stat. (2008). The council may
award grants-in-aid to state agencies, local governments, private organizations and corporations and individuals.
Other sources of grant funding to local governments include the Florida Main Street Program, which is
administered by the Division of Historical Resources. Florida Main Street is intended to promote preservation and
revitalization of historic downtown in cities having a population of less than 50,000. See 267.061(3)(g), Fla. Stat.
(2008). Designated communities are eligible to receive special assistance grants, as well as technical assistance over
a subsequent three-year period. The Secretary of State designates six Florida Main Street communities yearly.

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Florida Environmental and Land Use Law June 2008
Summary of Florida Historic Preservation Law

Planning Activities. The former category also includes such activities as restoration,
rehabilitation, salvaging of archeological sites, and the preparation of drawings or photographs of
threatened historic sites. The Survey and Planning Category of grants-in-aid includes community
education and community relations projects which promote historic and archaeological
preservation. Finally, the Division of Historical Resources also administers the Florida Main
Street Program in cooperation with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. See
267.031(5)(g), Fla. Stat. (2008).

III. Local Historic Preservation Programs

A. Basis of Local Government Authority in Florida


The police power allows a state to legislate on any matter affecting public health, safety, morals,
or welfare so long as the state does not impinge upon rights protected by the federal constitution
or usurp a function exclusively federal in nature.9 States have delegated power to local
governments, both counties and cities. The Florida Constitution gives cities broad home rule
powers.10 Cities in Florida may act in any area where they are not forbidden to act by state law."

9 See, e.g., Lawton v. Steele, 152 U.S. 133 (1894); Coca-Cola Co., Food Div., Polk Cty. v. Department of
Citrus, 406 So. 2d 1079 (Fla. 1981), appeal dismissed, 456 U.S. 1002 (1982) (state may regulate in protected areas
where there is a reasonable relationship to public safety, health, morals and the general welfare); Hav-A-Tampa
Cigar Co. v. Johnson, 5 So. 2d 433, 437 (Fla. 1942) (private property rights are subject to the sovereign police
power of the state to protect the safety, health, morals and general welfare of the public).

10 Fla. Const. art. VIII, 2. Municipalities. -
(b) POWERS. Municipalities shall have governmental, corporate and proprietary powers to enable them to
conduct municipal government, perform municipal functions and render municipal services, and may
exercise any power for municipal purposes except as otherwise provided by law. Each municipal
legislative body shall be elective.

1 Section 166.021, Florida Statutes, provides in relevant part:
(1) As provided in s. 2(b), Art. VIII of the State Constitution, municipalities shall
have the governmental, corporate, and proprietary powers to enable them to conduct
municipal government, perform municipal functions, and render municipal services,
and may exercise any power for municipal purposes, except when expressly
prohibited by law.
Cf Boca Raton v. State, 595 So. 2d 25 (Fla. 1992) (municipalities may exercise any govt. or proprietary
power for municipal purpose except those prohibited by law and municipalities may legislate on any matter
appropriate, except for those specifically excluded by the Municipal Home Rule Act); Ocala v. Nye, 608
So. 2d 15 (Fla. 1992) (broad authorization for cities to legislate on any "valid municipal purpose"); Miami
Beach v. Forte Towers, Inc., 305 So. 2d 764, 766 (Fla. 1974) (Chapter 166 of the Florida Statutes is a
"broad grant of power to municipalities in recognition and implementation of Art. VIII, 2(b), Fla.
Const."); Lakeland v. State ex rel. Harris, 197 So. 470 (Fla. 1940) ("municipal functions" are those granted
for benefit of the community which promote comfort, convenience, safety, and happiness of citizens of the

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Summary of Florida Historic Preservation Law

Florida counties are either charter or noncharter counties. Charter counties "have all
powers of local self-government not inconsistent with general law, or with special law approved
by vote of the electors. The governing body of a county operating under a charter may enact
county ordinances not inconsistent with general law." Fla. Const. art. VIII, l(g). Noncharter
counties have "such power of self-government as is provided by general or special law." Fla.
Const. art. VIII, l(f). The distinction between charter and noncharter counties is for the most
part an academic one, for Florida law clearly gives cities and both charter and noncharter
counties the power to adopt regulations designating districts and structures as historic and
protecting them accordingly.12 One further distinction between charter and noncharter counties is
the status of county ordinances within incorporated municipalities inside the county. In a
noncharter county, a conflicting municipal ordinance will prevail over a county ordinance within
the municipality. Fla. Const. art. VIII, l(f). However, the county charter may specify that the
ordinances of the county prevail in the event of a conflict with a municipal ordinance. Fla. Const.
art. VIII, 1(g).

municipality, including proper care of streets, parks and public places, erection and maintenance of public
utilities and improvements); cf Florida Dept. of Revenue v. City of Gainesville, 918 So. 2d 250, 262-63
(Fla. 2005) (distinguishing "municipal purpose" under Article VIII, 2(b) from the term as used in the tax
provisions under Article VII, 3(a)).

12 For example, Section 125.01(1), Florida Statutes, delegates broad powers to all county governments. The
act states:
The legislative and governing body of a county shall have the power to carry on
county government. To the extent not inconsistent with general or special law, this
power includes, but is not restricted to, the power to:

(f) Provide parks, preserves, playgrounds, recreation areas, libraries, museums,
historical commissions, and other recreation and cultural facilities
(g) Prepare and enforce comprehensive plans for the development of the
(h) Establish, coordinate, and enforce zoning and such business regulations as
are necessary for the protection of the public.
(i) Adopt, by reference or in full, and enforce building, housing, and related
technical codes and regulations.

The Florida Supreme Court, in Speer v. Olson, 367 So. 2d 207, 211-13 (Fla. 1978), suggested, in the face of lower
court precedent to the contrary, that Chapter 125, Florida Statutes, operated as a complete grant of power to non-
charter counties in the area of taxation. The Local Government Comprehensive Planning Act ( 163.3161 .3217,
Fla. Stat.), also empowers local governments to enact land use regulations, including historic preservation controls
within the context of Florida's comprehensive planning structure.

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Florida Environmental and Land Use Law June 2008
Summary of Florida Historic Preservation Law


Zoning and other land use regulations by local government are a function of the police power.
The "police power," in its broadest sense, includes all legislation and almost every function of
civil government. Hunter v. Green, 194 So. 379, 380 (Fla. 1940). Under the police power, the
government may restrict the use of property in the interests of public health, morals, safety and
public welfare. Miami Beach v. Ocean & Inland, 3 So. 2d 364, 366 (Fla. 1941); Ehinger v. State
ex rel. Gottesman, 2 So. 2d 357, 359 (Fla. 1941) (any regulation under the police power must be
done in a constitutional manner). Courts have found that zoning regulations are a valid use of
the police power if they have some "substantial relationship" to the promotion of public health,
safety, morals, or the general welfare of the community. E.g., Euclid v. Ambler Realty, 272 U.S.
365, 395 (1926); Gulf & Eastern Dev. v. Ft. Lauderdale, 354 So. 2d 57, 59 (Fla. 1978); State ex
rel. Landis v. Valz, 157 So. 651 (Fla. 1934) (comprehensive zoning falls within the constitutional
scope of the police power); Davis v. Sails, 318 So. 2d 214, 218 (Fla. 1st DCA 1975) ("It is well
settled that a zoning ordinance to be valid must bear a substantial relation to the public health,
safety, morals or general welfare") (quoting Miami Beach v. 8701 Collins Ave., 77 So. 2d 428,
430 (Fla. 1953)); SNinh Miami v. Hillbauer, 312 So. 2d 241, 242 (Fla. 3d DCA 1975). Historic
preservation has been explicitly recognized by the United States Supreme Court, Penn Central
Transp. v. New York City, 438 U.S. 104, 107-08 (1978); cf Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26
(1954),13 and many state courts as a valid use of the police power. See, e.g., P. J Birds, 654
So. 2d at 176; Bohannon v. San Diego, 106 Cal. Rptr. 333 (Ct. App. 1973); Opinion of the
Justices to the Senate, 128 N.E.2d 557 (Mass. 1955).

B. Historic Preservation and the Comprehensive Planning Process
Section 163.3177, Florida Statutes, lists required and optional elements of comprehensive plans.
Historic resources must be addressed in the Future Land Use and Housing Elements,14 which are

13 Upholding aesthetic zoning in Berman, the Court made the following oft-quoted statement describing the
breadth of the police power:
The concept of the public welfare is broad and inclusive . The values it represents
are spiritual as well as physical, aesthetic as well as monetary. It is within the power
of the legislature to determine that the community should be beautiful as well as
healthy, spacious as well as clean, well-balanced as well as carefully controlled.
Id. at 33. As to aesthetic controls generally, see CHRISTOPHER J. DUERKSEN, AESTHETICS AND LAND-USE
CONTROLS: BEYOND ECOLOGY AND ECONOMICS (American Planning Ass'n Planning Advisory Serv. Rep. No. 399,
1986); Russell P. Schropp, The Reasonableness ofAesthetic Zoning in Florida; A Look Beyond the Police Power, 10
FLA. ST. U. L. REV. 441, 445-53 (1982).

14 For the Future Land Use Element, Section 163.3177(6)(a), Florida Statutes, requires that "land use maps or
map series shall generally identify and depict historic district boundaries and shall designate historically significant
properties meriting protection." Expanding on this, rule 9J-5.006 of the Florida Administrative Code mandates, as a
requirement for Future Land Use Goals, Objectives and Policies, that "[t]he element shall contain one or more
specific objectives for each goal statement which address the requirements of paragraph 163.3177(6)(a), Florida
Statutes, and which ... 4. Ensure the protection of natural resources and historic resources."
For the Housing Element, Section 163.3177(6)(f), Florida Statutes, provides that element should consist of

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Florida Environmental and Land Use Law June 2008
Summary of Florida Historic Preservation Law

mandatory in all comprehensive plans, and the Coastal Management Element,15 required for
coastal cities and counties. Historic preservation is also included as an additional optional
element in its own right. 163.3177(7)(i), Fla. Stat. (2008). This element, if included, should set
out "plans and programs for those structures or lands in the area having historical,
archaeological, scenic, or similar significance." Although this is an optional element in a local
comprehensive plan, if it is included, it must be based on appropriate data, such as a survey or
study of historical resources in the community. 163.3177(8), Fla. Stat. (2008).

Thus, within Florida's Comprehensive Planning structure, every local government is
required by law to address historic preservation in the comprehensive planning process even if
they do not choose to have a separate historic preservation element. The community's policies
and objectives with regard to historic resources are further required to be based upon a survey of
those resources. This survey, if expanded to address all aspects of historic resources, is the
proper basis for a historic preservation ordinance.

The statutory law requires that historic resources be addressed in the comprehensive
planning stage by local governments. Yet, recent case law has also shown that courts view with
favor the top-down planning structure imposed by comprehensive plans. A reviewing court will
accord great weight to the factor that a particular ordinance or administrative action taken
pursuant to an ordinance is consistent with a comprehensive plan. See, e.g., Board of Cty.
Comm 'rs v. Snyder, 627 So. 2d 469, 476 (Fla. 1993); Machado v. Musgrove, 519 So. 2d 629, 633
(3d DCA 1987), rev. denied, 529 So. 2d 693 (Fla. 1988); Coastal Dev. ofN. Fla., Inc. v. City of
Jacksonville Beach, 788 So.2d 204, 208-09 (Fla. 2001). A comprehensive plan provides
legitimacy and further standards for an administrative body, such as a preservation commission.

In these circumstances, it is anomalous for historic preservation law in Florida to stand
outside the comprehensive planning structure already favored by the courts and the legislature.

"standards, plans, and principles to be followed in ... e. Provision for relocation housing and identification of
historically significant and other housing for purposes of conservation, rehabilitation, or replacement." See Fla.
Admin. Code R. 9J-5.010(1)(g) which requires that the Housing element be based on, among other factors, "[a]n
inventory of historically significant housing listed on the Florida Master Site File, National Register of Historic
Places or designated as historically significant by or in accordance with local ordinance, and shall include their
generalized locations."
15. The Coastal Management Element includes a requirement that the local government set forth policies "that
shall guide the local government's decisions and program implementation with respect to the following objectives:
... 10. Preservation, including sensitive adaptive use of historic and archaeological resources." 163.3177(6)(g)1.j,
Fla. Stat. (2008). The Coastal Management Element is required for all those cities and counties identified in Section
380.24, Florida Statutes, as coastal. Id. Implementing this section, administrative regulations require that "[a]n
inventory and analysis of the impacts of development and redevelopment proposed in the future land use element on
historic resources and sites in the coastal planning area shall be included along with a map of areas designated for
historic preservation." Fla. Admin. Code R. 9J-5.012(2)(c).

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This is especially so given the tendency of Florida courts to view all forms of land regulation
similarly in terms of procedural requirements. A historic preservation element within the local
comprehensive plan will not save an otherwise unjustifiable action, but where local governments
can show that decisions are consistent within the framework of a properly adopted
comprehensive plan, these decisions are less likely to be struck down by a reviewing court.

C. Local Historic Preservation Ordinances

Though significant variations exist within historic preservation ordinances, there are some
features common to all. Commentator Richard J. Roddewig identifies ten basic components
contained in most ordinances: (1) A statement of purpose for the ordinance; (2) A statement of
powers and authorities; (3) Creation of a historic preservation commission; (4) Criteria for
designation of landmarks and/or historic districts; (5) Procedures and criteria for nomination and
designation of landmarks; (6) Types of actions that are reviewable by the preservation
commission and the legal effect of the review; (7) The criteria applied by the commission to the
action reviewed; (8) Consideration of the economic effect of designation or review of an action;
(9) Procedures for appeals from a preservation commission decision; and (10) Fines and
penalties for violation of ordinance provisions. See Richard J. Roddewig, Preparing a Historic
Preservation Ordinance 7 (American Planning Ass'n Planning Advisory Serv. Rep. No. 374,
1983); Constance Epton Beaumont, A Citizen's Guide to Protecting Historic Places: Local
Preservation Ordinances (Nat'l Trust, 1992).

There are reasons for the similarities. General requirements for certification of local
historic preservation programs are contained in 36 C.F.R. 61.5(c). More explicit criteria are
found in Section B of Florida Certified Local Government Guidelines, promulgated by the
Bureau of Historic Preservation.16

16. Incorporated by reference in Fla. Admin. Code R. 1A-38.007 (1997). According to these requirements, any
local government seeking to certify its historic preservation program must adopt an historic preservation ordinance
which includes the following provisions:
S A purpose clause which authorizes a preservation commission to designate and protect historic
S Criteria for designation which are the same as or similar to those contained in NHPA for
designation of Properties to the National Register.
S Clear boundaries for any historic districts or landmarks, or establishment of a mechanism to do
S Authority for review of all alterations, relocations, demolitions or new construction within a
historic district or of historic landmarks, and procedures for that review. However, the ordinance
shall provide only for a delay of demolition, not an indefinite stay of proposed demolition.
S Criteria for reviewing alteration, relocation, demolition and construction proposals equivalent to
those contained in the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for
RF, i,,. h,i /, i,,ti Historic Buildings.
S Enforcement and penalty provisions, along with an appeals process.
S A time frame for the review of proposals and the consideration of alternatives by the local

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Florida Environmental and Land Use Law June 2008
Summary of Florida Historic Preservation Law

These guidelines also include some requirements applicable to the historic preservation
commissions established by local ordinances. An appointed commission should contain at least
five members with skills in architecture, history, architectural history, planning, archaeology,
urban planning or other historic preservation-related fields.17 Florida Certified Local
Government Guidelines Pt. B.2.c. (2002) (available from the Bureau of Historic Preservation).
The commissions are responsible for reviewing proposed alterations or demolitions, as well as
nominations to the National Register within a set time frame. The commissions should be
provided with sufficient staff to enable them to carry out their work, and should survey local

D. Administrative Review Boards

Article II, Section 3, Florida Constitution, provides for the division of state government into
legislative, executive and judicial branches, and further provides that, "No person belonging to
one branch shall exercise any powers appertaining to either of the other branches unless
expressly provided herein." Accordingly, courts are vigilant to guard against unlawful delegation
of powers by one branch of government to another branch, and likewise against any
encroachment by one branch on the powers rightfully exercised by another branch. In historic
preservation, as in most local land use regulations, the separation of powers usually involves
possible unlawful delegation of powers by the legislative body or usurpation of powers deemed
judicial in nature.

Public and owner notification, and public hearings regarding designation of historic properties and
review of applications.
Florida Certified Local Government Guidelines Pt. B.1. (2002) (available from the Bureau of Historic Preservation).
The Certified Local Governments may be eligible for a number of federal and state grants and technical assistance,
as well as participation in the National Register nomination process. See 36 C.F.R. 61. For an excellent recent
review of Florida's Certified Local Government Program, and a comparison with non-certified ordinances, see
George B. Abney, Florida's Local Historic Preservation Ordinances: Maintaining Flexibility While Avoiding
Vagueness Claims, 25 FLA. ST. U. L. REV. 1017, 1032-38 (1998).

7 The importance of expertise on administrative boards has been frequently noted by courts. See, e.g., Maher
v. New Orleans, 516 F.2d 1051, 1062 (5th Cir. 1975), cert. denied, 426 U.S. 905 (1976); Estate ofTippettv. Miami,
645 So. 2d 533, 537 (Fla. 3d DCA 1994) (Gersten, J., concurring) (approving the inclusion of experts such as an
architect, landscape architect, historian, architectural historian, real estate broker as an important procedural
safeguard on Miami's historic preservation board). The Guidelines provide that smaller communities (those with a
population of less than 10,000) may employ a three member commission. Where possible, commission members
should be residents of the community. See Florida Certified Local Government Guidelines, at Pt. B.2.

18 See Florida Certified Local Government Guidelines, at Pt. B.2. Preservation commissions must meet
publicly, at least four times a year, and records must be available to the public. Id. Pt. B.4. Preservation
commissions must also comply with the notification standards contained in 36 C.F.R. 60.6(c)-(d) for nominations
to the National Register. Id.

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This issue of unlawful delegation may arise whenever a local government delegates its
discretionary, legislative authority. See Julian Conrad Juergensmeyer, Florida Land Use Law:
Development, Growth Management, Subdivisions, and Zoning 2.05(D) (1999). Legislative
authority may be lawfully delegated to an appropriate entity if adequate standards are provided.19
Askew v. Cross Keys Waterway, 372 So. 2d 913, 924 (Fla. 1978); P.J. Birds, 654 So. 2d at 175-
76; cf Chiles v. Children, 589 So. 2d 260, 268 (Fla. 1991) ("The Legislature can delegate
functions so long as there are sufficient guidelines to assure that the legislative intent is clearly
established and can be directly followed. . What the Legislature cannot do is delegate the
policy-making responsibility."); see also State ex rel. Palm Beach Jockey Club v. Florida State
Racing Comm 'n, 28 So. 2d 330 (Fla. 1946). P. J. Birds, supra, is important for upholding Dade
County's historic preservation ordinance against an unconstitutional delegation attack. The Third
District Court of Appeal, in P.J. Birds, found that Dade County's use of the National Register
Criteria for historic landmark designation provided sufficient guidance to a preservation board,
and upheld use of these criteria, finding that the generally recognized standards in the field of
historic preservation provide sufficient basis for a case-by-case application of preservation laws.
Id. at 177-78.

Traditionally, a zoning or land use ordinance which applies to the community as a whole
is a legislative action. Snyder, 627 So. 2d at 474; Gulf & E. Dev. Corp., 354 So. 2d at 59;
Josephson v. Autrey, 96 So. 2d 784, 788 (Fla. 1957); D.R. Horton, Inc.-Jacksonville v. Peyton,
959 So.2d 390, 393-94 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007) (distinguishing legislative from other quasi-judicial
acts). These legislative decisions will not be overturned by a court absent a showing that the
legislative body has exceeded its powers or acted in an arbitrary and unreasonable manner.20
Quasi-judicial, or adjudicative, actions apply general law to specific cases.21 Full due process
requirements apply to these adjudicative actions.

19 A local board or commission, may exercise quasi-judicial powers, but will be prohibited from usurping
powers truly judicial in nature. Thus, courts have found that an executive board or a commission has powers to hold
hearings, make factual determinations, and impose certain quantifiable damages. They do not have the power to
impose nonquantifiable damages or injunctions, which are fundamentally judicial in nature. Laborers' Int'l Union
v. Burroughs, 541 So. 2d 1160, 1163-64 (Fla. 1989); Broward County. v. LaRosa, 505 So. 2d 422, 424 (Fla. 1987).

20 Courts presume the validity of legislative actions. Executive 100 v. Martin Cty., 922 F.2d 1536, 1541 (11th
Cir. 1991); Town oflndialantic v. McNulty, 400 So. 2d 1227, 1230 (Fla. 5th DCA 1981); see Miami Beach v. Ocean
& Inland Co., 3 So. 2d 364, 366 (Fla. 1941), where the Florida Supreme Court stated:
We will determine the reasonableness of the regulations as applied to the factual
situation meanwhile keeping before us the accepted rules that the court will not
substitute its judgment for that of the city council; that the ordinance is presumed
valid ... and that the legislative intent will be sustained if "fairly debatable."
21 One commentator provided the following helpful test to distinguish quasi-judicial from legislative actions:
Basically, this test involves the determination of whether action produces a general
rule or policy which is applicable to an open class of individuals, interestss, or
situations, or whether it entails the application of a general rule or policy to specific

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The increasing importance of comprehensive planning has given a broader context to all
zoning decisions. The Florida Supreme Court, in Snyder, 627 So. 2d at 474, while recognizing
that large-scale or comprehensive rezonings were legislative functions entitled to the traditional
high degree of deference, found small-scale rezonings to be quasi-judicial actions. "Rezoning"
has been broadly interpreted by Florida courts, such that the due process requirements for
rezoning apply whenever the use of property is "substantially restricted" by local government
action. Gainesville v. GNVInv., 413 So. 2d 770, 771 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982); Sanibel v. Buntrock,
409 So. 2d 1073, 1075 (Fla. 2d DCA 1981).

This is relevant to historic preservation because most such programs involve the
establishment by the local government of an administrative board to implement the preservation
ordinance passed by the legislative body. The preservation board acts as a quasi-judicial body.22
Thus, zoning ordinances implementing comprehensive zoning, and by extension, historic
preservation ordinances establishing historic preservation commissions are legislative functions.
Small-scale rezonings, the designation of historic landmarks or districts by a preservation
commission, or the denial or approval of applications to alter or demolish listed buildings are
usually quasi-judicial functions.

E. Designation of Historic Districts and Individual Landmarks


Historic preservation needs to be more than a vague community wish. It needs to reflect
community priorities in order to be effective. A better understanding of historic resources can be
achieved through the sort of survey required for the historic preservation element of a
comprehensive plan, and for the future land use, housing and coastal management elements of
the comprehensive plan, all of which require local government to address historic resources. The

individuals, interests or situations. If the former determination is satisfied, there is
legislative action; if the latter determination is satisfied, the action is judicial.
Michael S. Holman, Comment, Zoning Amendments The Product of Judicial or Quasi-Judicial Action, 33 OHIO
ST. L. J. 130, 137 (1972). This passage was quoted in the important land use decision Fasano v. Board of Cty.
Comm 'rs, 507 P.2d 23, 27 (Or. 1973) (en banc), which first applied this distinction to land use rezonings. Cf Bi-
Metallic Investment Co. v. Board of Equalization, 239 U.S. 441, 445 (1915) (often considered the source of the
legislative-judicial distinction); Synder, 627 So. 2d at 474 (quoting West FlJ,., Amusement Co. v. State Racing
Comm'n, 165 So. 64, 65 (Fla. 1935)); Machado v. Musgrove, 519 So. 2d 629 (3d DCA 1987), rev. denied, 529
So. 2d 693 (Fla. 1988); see also Fasano, 507 P.2d at 30.
22 This is also the case with many zoning functions, which are often delegated to an independent zoning or
planning board. See Gulf& E. Dev. Co., 354 So. 2d at 59-60 (city ordinance invested the zoning and planning board
with interim zoning authority, subject to approval by the city commission, and the zoning and planning board was
responsible for factfinding for matters ultimately decided by the city commission).

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survey forms a basis for the designation of individual buildings or particular districts as historic,
and is a useful tool to support designation should this be challenged in court. See, e.g., Bohannon
v. San Diego, 106 Cal. Rptr. 333 (Ct. App. 1973) A-S-P Assoc. v. Raleigh, 258 S.E.2d 444, 458
(N.C. 1979); Maher v. New Orleans, 516 F.2d 1051, 1063 (5th Cir. 1975), cert. denied, 426 U.S.
905 (1976); 1063. The survey of historic resources is also required for participation in the
Certified Local Government Program. See Florida Certified Local Government Guidelines Pt.


Many ordinances rely on the criteria promulgated by the National Park Service for inclusion in
the National Register as the basis for historic delegation in their ordinances.23 These criteria are
substantially the same as those included in Dade County's historic preservation ordinance,
recently upheld by the Florida Third District Court of Appeals in P.J. Birds, 654 So. 2d at 170.
This positive review by a Florida court makes a local adaptation of the National Register criteria,
like that used in Dade County, very attractive.

As an interim measure, a historic preservation ordinance should also provide protection
for properties pending designation as landmarks or within a likely historic district. This will
prevent an owner from preempting the local protection by seeking a demolition permit. The
interim prohibition should set a time period for review during which demolition permits will not

23 The National Register criteria are:
National Register criteria for evaluation. The quality of significance in American
history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites,
buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting,
materials, workmanship, feeling, and association and
(a) that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the
broad patterns of our history; or
(b) that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
(c) that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of
construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic
values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components
may lack individual distinction; or
(d) that have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory
or history.
Criteria considerations. Ordinarily cemeteries, birthplaces, or graves of historical
figures, properties owned by religious institutions or used for religious purposes,
structures that have been moved from their original locations, reconstructed historic
buildings, properties primarily commemorative in nature, and properties that have
achieved significance within the past 50 years shall not be considered eligible for the
National Register. However, such properties will qualify if they are integral parts of
districts that do meet the criteria or if they fall within the following categories:

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be granted.24 See Dallas v. Crownrich, 506 S.W.2d 654 (Tex. Civ. App. 1974) (upholding
authority of city to impose a moratorium on building permits pending the designation of a
historic district).


Historic districts may be formed either as a traditional zoning district or as a special overlay
district. If formed as a zoning district, it regulates uses permitted within the historic district, as
well as controlling alteration or demolition of structures. An overlay district, by contrast, sits
over an existing zoning district.25 Thus, where land is otherwise zoned residential or commercial,
it retains its permitted usage with the additional criteria imposed for the alteration or demolition
of structures within the district.

Either of these two forms of historic preservation is acceptable in Florida. Note,
however, that where a special zoning district is established which also controls land usage, the
designation of land usage is held to be a legislative function that cannot be delegated to an
administrative body, but must be reserved to the local governing body. Josephson, 96 So. 2d 784

(a) A religious property deriving primary significance from architectural or artistic
distinction or historical importance; or
(b) A building or structure removed from its original location but which is significant
primarily for architectural value, or which is the surviving structure most importantly
associated with a historic person or event; or
(c) A birthplace or grave of a historical figure of outstanding importance if there is
no appropriate site or building directly associated with his productive life; or
(d) A cemetery which derives its primary significance from graves of persons of
transcendent importance, from age, from distinctive design features, or from
association with historic events; or
(e) A reconstructed building when accurately executed in a suitable environment and
presented in a dignified manner as a part of a restoration master plan, and when no
other building or structure with the same association has survived; or
(f) A property primarily commemorative in intent if design, age, tradition, or
symbolic value has invested it with its own exceptional significance; or
(g) A property achieving significance within the past 50 years if it is of exceptional
36 C.F.R. 60.4.
24 In other land use matters, Florida courts have upheld moratoria on building permits when land use
decisions are pending. See, e.g., Franklin County v. Leisure Properties, 430 So. 2d 475 (1st DCA), pet. denied, 440
So. 2d 352 (Fla. 1983); GNV Inv., 413 So. 2d at 771-72 (requiring notice for proposed moratoria); Sanibel v.
Buntrock, 409 So. 2d 1073 (2d DCA 1981), rev. denied, 417 So. 2d 328 (Fla. 1982).
25 The preservation ordinance may also regulate non-historic structures within the historic district. See
Faulkner v. Town of(C I,. I,. r.. ., 428 A.2d 879 (Md 1981) (upholding regulation of non-historic properties within
Annapolis historic district); A-S-P Assoc., 258 S.E.2d at 451.

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(Fla. 1957). For this reason, the overlay district, which permits designation and administration by
a preservation board, may be preferable.


In addition to historic districts, courts have upheld the designation of individual structures as
historic landmarks. See, e.g., Penn Central, 438 U.S. 104 (1978); St. Bailhiih,leiin 's Church v.
New York City, 914 F.2d 348 (2d Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 499 U.S. (1991). Historic preservation
ordinances commonly provide for the protection of both historic districts and isolated structures
deemed historically significant.

The risk, in designating a single structure as a landmark, is the avoidance of "spot
zoning." Spot zoning involves the arbitrary zoning or rezoning of a single parcel of land in a way
that is inconsistent with the comprehensive land use plan and in a way that either uniquely
burdens or unfairly benefits the individual landowner whose parcel is rezoned.26 If, however, the
local government can show that the rezoning action with regard to the individual property is in
accord with the comprehensive plan and otherwise in the public interest, the rezoning action,
including landmark designation, is not an improper spot zoning. Penn Central, 438 U.S. at 132;
see also Miles v. Dade County, 260 So. 2d 553 (Fla. 3d DCA 1972). Thus, especially in the case
of individual landmarks, both a historic preservation element in the comprehensive plan and a
thorough survey of local historic resources is important to protect the government action.


Demolition by neglect may occur if a landowner deliberately neglects a protected structure in the
hope of obtaining a permit for demolition when the structure finally reaches a state where it
jeopardizes public safety. A well drafted historic preservation ordinance should prohibit owners
from allowing protected structures to so deteriorate as to endanger the building or even
detrimentally affect the surrounding historic district. Courts have upheld reasonable requirements
for landowners to maintain their property.27 See, e.g., Maher, 516 F.2d at 1066-67. The

26. In Penn Central, the Court rejected a charge that the New York City landmark ordinance amounted to
improper spot zoning, noting:
In contrast to discriminatory zoning, which is the antithesis of land-use control as
part of some comprehensive plan, the New York City law embodies a comprehensive
plan to preserve structures of historic or aesthetic interest wherever they may be
found in the city.
438 U.S. at 132.

SInMaher, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals noted that:
Once it has been determined that the purpose of the Vieux Carre legislation is a
proper one, upkeep of buildings appears reasonably necessary to the accomplishment
of the goals of the ordinance .... The fact that an owner may incidentally be

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ordinance should empower the preservation board, in the event of a listed property being
dangerously neglected, to order necessary repairs and charge these to the landowner or charge
them as a lien upon the property.

F. Permit Reviews


Any historic preservation ordinance should establish a permitting process for alteration or
modification of listed properties.28 This permitting should be coordinated with other local
authorities so that other permits are only given when the preservation board has issued a
"certificate of appropriateness," signifying its approval of the requested action. A similar
procedure should require the preservation board to review requests to demolish listed properties,
and contributing structures within historic districts. The preservation board should ideally have
the power to prevent, not merely delay, demolition of listed properties.


Local governments can help avoid constitutional takings challenges to the application of their
historic preservation ordinances through economic hardship and variance provisions. See Nance
v. Indiatlantic, 419 So. 2d 1041 (Fla. 1982) (prerequisite for granting a zoning variance is the
presence of an exceptional and unique hardship to the individual landowner); Miami-Dade
County v. Brennan, 802 So. 2d 1154, 1155-56 (Fla. 3d DCA 2001) (Fletcher, J., concurring)
(discussing the "unnecessary hardship" standard for variances). These will allow local officials
to examine whether the application of the ordinance will allow the owners of property some
"reasonable return" on their investment.29

required to make out-of-pocket expenditures in order to remain in compliance with
an ordinance does not per se render that ordinance a taking.
Id.; cf Buttnick v. Seattle, 105 Wash. 2d 857, 719 P.2d 93 (1986) (upholding minimum maintenance requirement).
See also the related article by John McPherson, discussing constitutional issues and historic preservation. See
generally Note, Affirmative Maintenance Provisions in Historic Preservation: A Taking ofProperty, 34 S.C. L. REV.
713 (1983).

28 Many communities use the Secretary of the Interior 's Standards for Rehabilitation as a starting point for
providing criteria to guide both landowners and commissions in approving renovations. This should be
supplemented by locally applicable design guidelines, taking into account local history and architecture. See, e.g.,
Society for Ethical Culture v. Spatt, 416 N.Y.S.2d 246, 249-50 (N.Y. App. Div. 1979), aff'd, 415 N.E.2d 922 (N.Y.
1980); A-S-P Associates, 258 S.E.2d at 453-54.

29 Matters for consideration in economic hardship cases may include: (1) Past and current use of the property;
(2) Original purchase price; (3) Assessed value; (4) Recent appraised value; (5) Current mortgage principal balance
and interest rate; (6) Past income and expenses; (7) Ownership structure (partnership, corporation, etc.); and (8) Tax

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As with any land use law, a historic preservation ordinance must be enforced if it is to effectively
protect local historic resources. Courts have upheld penalties properly imposed for violating
historic preservation ordinances, including fines, requirements to restore landmarks altered
without permission, and denial of permits to build or rebuild. See, e.g., Parker v. Beacon Hill
Architectural Comm 'n, 27 Mass. App. Ct. 211, 536 N.E.2d 1108 (1989) (upholding requirement
that owner remove a partially completed fifth story addition constructed in violation of Boston
preservation ordinance).

IV. Incentives and Alternative Tools for Historic Preservation

Landowners in historic districts should be informed that the listing of historic buildings, along
with the requirements of maintenance for neighboring buildings, often works to raise the value of
land in the district. Accompanying sweeteners, in the form of local ad valorem tax incentives
and, where practical, transferrable development rights, will give property owners reasons to
accept historic preservation. The possibility of federal tax credits for rehabilitation of income-
producing property is another incentive, one which may soon also be available to homeowners.
These benefits conferred by historic designation may be important should the ordinance or its
application be challenged either as a confiscatory taking, or under the Florida Property Rights
Protection Act.

A. Tax Relief


A further federal contribution to historic preservation is tax relief for the rehabilitation of historic
properties,30 and for the establishment of conservation easements.31 Federal tax benefits remains

CHALLENGE: A GUIDE FOR OFFICIALS AND PLANNERS 34 (American Planning Ass'n Planning Advisory Serv. Report
No. 416, 1989). This report also contains a useful administrative procedure guide to help avoid takings challenges.
See also Zaruba v. Village of Oak Park, 695 N.E.2d 510 (Ill. App. 1998) (upholding denial of demolition permit
where owner of house in historic district failed to demonstrate economic hardship).

30 Rehabilitation tax credit is allowed for "qualified rehabilitation expenditures" on qualified buildings.
BUILDINGS 4-15 (1993).

31.I.R.C., 26 U.S.C. 170(h) allows a federal income, gift and estate tax deduction for a "Qualified
Conservation Contribution." A "Qualified Conservation Contribution" means a gift (A) of a qualified real property
interest; (B) to a qualified organization; made (C) exclusively for conservation purposes. Id.; see KASS, supra, at

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a factor in encouraging property owners to preserve and renovate rather than to destroy and
rebuild. The rehabilitation tax credit is of two types: 1) a 20% credit for qualified expenditures
on rehabilitating certified historic structures; or 2) a 10% credit for qualified expenditures on
rehabilitating non-historic structures placed in service prior to 1936.32 Although the 1986 tax
code revisions substantially lessened the federal tax benefits for rehabilitation, both rehabilitation
tax credits continue to be a significant incentive and reward for rehabilitation of mainly non-
residential properties. Likewise, the federal tax code allows a federal income, gift or estate tax
deduction for "qualified conservation contributions" toward the establishment of conservation
easements.33 The conservation easement deduction is another factor in encouraging property
owners to preserve and renovate rather than destroy and rebuild.


An amendment to the Florida Constitution, approved by Florida voters in November 1992,
allowed counties or municipalities to enact ordinances allowing ad valorem tax exemptions "to
owners of historic properties." Fla. Const. art. VII, 3(e). A requirement that the owners be
actively engaged in renovation in order to receive the tax exemption was removed by an
amendment to Article VII, Section 3(e), adopted by the voters in November 1998, and became
effective January 1, 1999. Legislation enacted since 1992 provides for these tax exemptions. See
196.1961, 196.1997, 196.1998, Fla. Stat. (2008).

There are three types of local tax exemptions for historic preservation. Section 196.1961,
Florida Statutes, authorizes local governments to enact an ordinance providing exemptions from
property taxes for up to 50% of the assessed value of property that is: 1) used for commercial
purposes or by a non-profit organization; 2) listed in the National Register, designated as a local
landmark or part of a National Register or local historic district; and 3) regularly open to the

Section 196.1997, Florida Statutes, is the main law governing these tax exemptions. The
statute is not self-executing, but requires counties or municipalities to enact a specific ordinance

32 I.R.C., 26 U.S.C. 47(a) (2008). The "historic building" for which the 20% rehabilitation credit applies,
include structures on or eligible for inclusion on the National Register, contributing structures within a National
Register District, or is part of a substantially equivalent local district (e.g., one which meets CLG Guidelines).
I.R.C., 26 U.S.C. 47(c)(3) (2008). The rehabilitation must be certified as consistent with the Secretary of the
Interior 's Standards for Rehabilitation by the State Preservation Officer and the Department of the Interior. I.R.C.,
26 U.S.C. 47(c)(2). Both the 20% historic rehabilitation credit and the 10% rehabilitation credit apply only for
property held for investment or trade, or residential rental property. I.R.C., 26 U.S.C. 47(c)(2) (2008). For more
on the Federal rehabilitation tax credits, see KASS, supra at 4-15.

33 A "Qualified Conservation Contribution" means a gift (A) of a qualified real property interest; (B) to a
qualified organization; made (C) exclusively for conservation purposes. I.R.C., 26 U.S.C. 170(h) (2008); see
KASS, supra, at 24-33.

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allowing the tax exemption. 196.1997(1), Fla. Stat. (2008). Exemptions apply to
improvements to the property resulting from "restoration, renovation, or rehabilitation" of the
property. 196.1997(2), Fla. Stat. (2008). These "improvements" must be carried out in
accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic
Properties, and be so certified by the local preservation board. 196.1997(12), Fla. Stat. (2008).
The exemption may apply only to improvements made on or after the day on which the tax
exemption ordinance is adopted.

The ordinance must state the type and location of properties which qualify for the
exemption. 196.1997(3), Fla. Stat.. Property which may qualify includes National Register
property, contributing property within a National Register district, or property designated historic
or contributing under a local preservation ordinance. 196.1997(11), Fla. Stat. (2008). The
ordinance may limit the application of the exemption only to particular locations within the
county or municipality. 196.1997(3), Fla. Stat. (2008).

The exemption applies only to those ad valorem taxes imposed by the governmental unit
which actually enacts the ordinance. 196.1997(4), Fla. Stat. (2008). Thus, where the county,
but not the city, enacts such an exemption, a property owner would receive the exemption with
regard to county taxes, but not property taxes levied by the city or school board. The exemption
lasts for up to ten years, and the property must retain its historic character and the improvements
for this ten-year period. 196.1997(5), Fla. Stat. (2008).

The local preservation board (or the State Division of Historic Resources depending on
the terms of the ordinance) must review applications for the exemptions and recommend
granting or denying the application, and must provide reasons for the recommendation.
196.1997(6), Fla. Stat. (2008). The preservation board reports to the local government, which
must enact the specific exemption in the form of a resolution or ordinance by majority vote.
196.1997(10), Fla. Stat. (2008). Applicants for the exemption must covenant with the local
government for the term of the exemption to maintain the historic character of the property and
the qualifying improvements. An owner who subsequently violates this covenant will be liable
for the amount of the exemption for each of the previous years in which it was in effect plus
interest. 196.1997(7), Fla. Stat. (2008).

If the local government votes to approve an ad valorem tax exemption, it takes effect on
January 1 of the following year. 196.1997(10), Fla. Stat. (2008). The resolution approving the
tax exemption must include the name of the owner, the location of the property, the duration and
expiration date of the exemption, and a finding that the property qualifies for the exemption
under the statute.

Section 196.1998, Florida Statutes, provides additional tax exemptions for historic
properties that are open to the public. The property must qualify for the exemption under
Section 196.1997. There are additional requirements: (1) the property must be used for non-

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profit or governmental purposes;34 (2) the property must be "regularly and frequently open for
the public's visitation, use, and benefit";35 and (3) the improvements to the property must be
made by or for the use of the current owner of the property. 196.1998(1), Fla. Stat. (2008). If
these additional requirements are met, and if the assessed value of the improvements to the
property as a result of rehabilitation or restoration equals fifty percent of the total assessed value
of the property, the local government may authorize an exemption equal to 100% of the
property's improved, total assessed value.36

B. Conservation Easements

Conservation easements have become a useful tool in historic preservation.37 Although
easements developed under common law, conservation easements for environmental and historic
preservation purposes are statutory creations.38 The interest created is not a possessory or usage
right, but rather the right of the easement holder to require the owner to maintain the historic
character of the property.39

34 "[A] property is being used for government or nonprofit purposes if the occupant or user of at least 65
percent of the useable space of a historic building or of the upland component of an archaeological site is an agency
of the federal, state, or local government, or a [registered] nonprofit corporation." Fla. Admin. Code r. 1A-

35 Regularly open for public use is defined by the regulations as being available for public access for at least 52
days in the year. Owners are allowed to charge an entrance fee. Fla. Admin. Code r. 1A-38.004(5).

36 Id. As with the regular historic property tax exemption, this additional exemption applies only to
improvements made on or after the day on which the exemption is granted.

3 See generally Thomas A. Coughlin, Easements and Other Legal Techniques to Protect Historic Property in
Private Ownership, 6 PRES. L. REP. 2031 (1987-88).

38 See 704.06, Fla. Stat. (2008) (providing for the creation, acquisition and enforcement of conservation
easements). According to Section 704.06(1), Florida Statutes, a conservation easement means:
a right or interest in real property which is appropriate to ... retaining the structural
integrity or physical appearance of sites or properties of historical, architectural,
archaeological, or cultural significance; or maintaining existing land uses and which
prohibits or limits any of the following:
(h) Acts or uses detrimental to the preservation of the structural integrity or
physical appearance of [historic sites].

39 704.06(4), Fla. Stat. (2008). The easement holder has the right to enter and inspect the subject property at
reasonable times to ensure that the terms of the easement are complied with. The statute provides that the
conservation easements run with the land, which means they are retained in the event the land is sold. Conservation
easements may be "created or stated in the form of a restriction, easement, covenant, or condition in any deed, will
or other instrument ... or in any order of taking," but because they are real property interests they must be recorded
in the county records office to give notice of the restrictions. The owner of the easement, which may be the local
government or a charitable organization, can enforce the easement in court. The statute also provides for third-party

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As a minimum, a conservation easement should ensure that the exterior is maintained and
allow the holder of the easement to review and approve changes. They may also provide for the
preservation of a historic interior. The easement should provide for compatible usage and
control further development. By way of an incentive, Florida law allows dedicated properties to
benefit by assessing them at a lower rate for tax purposes. See 193.501, 193.503, 193.505,
Fla. Stat. (2008). This reduces the property taxes due for these subject properties. Additional
valuable incentives for the use of conservation easements are provided by the federal
government. Donors of conservation easements may be eligible to take a charitable contribution
deduction on federal income, estate or gift taxes for the value of easements donated to a tax-
exempt charitable organization for "conservation purposes." I.R.C., 26 U.S.C. 170(h) (2008);
see also Harwell E. Coale, III, Conservation Easements as Qualified Conservation
Contributions, 79 Fla. Bar J. 16 (Oct. 2005) (discussing qualified organizations and qualified
conservation purposes under the Internal Revenue Code).40

C. Transferable Development Rights

Transferable development rights (TDRs) are an increasingly popular means of mitigating the
effects of land use regulations upon single owners. See 163.3202(3), Fla. Stat. (2008)
(specifically encouraging communities to make use of "innovative land development
regulations" such as TDRs). The purpose of TDRs is to lessen "wipeouts" caused by
government regulations. A wipeout is "any decrease in the value of real estate other than one
caused by the owner or by general deflation." Julian Conrad Juergensmeyer & Thomas E.
Roberts, Land Use Planning & Development Regulation Law 9.10 (2nd ed., 2007). A TDR
program seeks to shift a community's development from areas of the community sensitive to
development pressures to other receiving areas. The property in the sending area may be part of a
historic district. In return for leaving the historic property intact, an owner receives rights to
develop land within the receiving area more intensely, or alternatively, to transfer these rights to
more intense development to landowners within the receiving area. See id. 11.6; see also
Richard J. Roddewig & Cheryl A. Inghram, Transferable Development Rights Programs: TDRs

enforcement, which would allow for the private enforcement of easements by interested groups held by local
government. Id.
40 Protective covenants are a preservation tool similar in intent and use to conservation easements. Creation
of such covenants usually occurs at the time property is transferred with the inclusion of the covenant in the deed of
transfer. Section 193.505, Florida Statutes, provides property tax benefits to owners who covenant with local
governments to maintain their historic properties. The covenants must be for a term of at least ten years. Covenants
and restrictions on use of the land are taken into account when assessing the property for tax purposes..
193.505(3), Fla. Stat. (2008). However, because covenants do not transfer a property interest, they do not entitle
the landowner or donor to any federal tax benefits. Note that if the restriction is recorded under Section 704.06(5),
Florida Statutes, it becomes a statutory conservation easement, and thus a property interest entitled to accompanying
tax benefits. See generally Coughlin, supra at 2035.

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Florida Environmental and Land Use Law June 2008
Summary of Florida Historic Preservation Law

and the Real Estate Market (American Planning Ass'n Planning.Advisory.Serv. Rep. No. 401,
1986); KASS, supra at 5.3.

In Penn Central, supra at 137, the Supreme Court noted the existence of a TDR program
in New York City as useful in mitigating the application of the landmarks ordinance. The owners
of Grand Central Station were not permitted to build the desired office block over the station, but
the local ordinance allowed them to transfer the rights to building to other nearby properties with
the same owner. Id. at 120-22. The existence of a viable TDR program was a factor in the
Court's decision that the application of New York's landmark preservation law to the station was
not a confiscatory taking. Penn Central, 438 U.S. at 137 ("While these rights may well not have
constituted 'just compensation' if a 'taking' had occurred, the rights nevertheless undoubtedly
mitigate whatever financial burdens the law has imposed on appellants and, for that reason, are
to be taken into account in considering the impact of regulation.") (citation omitted).

The imprimatur of the Supreme Court in Penn Central legitimized TDRs, and since then
they have been incorporated into many land use programs, both for historic preservation and
environmental purposes. See Juergensmeyer & Roberts, supra at 9.10; Roddewig & Inghram,
supra at 5, 13 (including a discussion of the use of TDRs in Collier County, Florida). The use of
a TDR program was approved by a Florida court in Hollywood v. Hollywood, Inc., 432 So. 2d
1332 (4th DCA), rev. denied, 441 So. 2d 632 (Fla. 1983). In Hollywood, when the seaside
portion of property was downzoned to single-family status, the owner was allowed in return to
transfer the extra development to inland property, and develop this at a higher density. Id. 432
So. 2d at 1333. The owner could trade the right to build 79 single family homes for development
rights to 368 additional multi-family units on the receiving property. Id. at 1338. The result was
the preservation of open space on the beach and prevention of high-rise construction, and was
upheld as a valid exercise of the police power. Id. at 1337-38; see also Glisson v. Alachua
County, 558 So. 2d 1030, 1037 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990) (approving inclusion of a TDR program
enacted to protect wildlife habitat).

Section 193.505(1)(a), Florida Statutes, provides that if the owner transfers the
development rights to this land to the local government, the property will only be assessed at the
value of its actual usage for property tax purposes.41 By reducing the property tax bill for
landowners who transfer development rights, this law provides an additional incentive for the use
of TDRs.

41 193.505(1)(a), Fla. Stat. (2008). The section allows a similar lower tax assessment for owners who enter
into limited covenants to maintain properties in their historic condition. 193.505(1)(b), Fla. Stat. (2008). The
covenant runs with the land, and the lower tax assessment lasts for the term of the covenant, which must be at least
ten years. Id.; cf 193.501(1)(a), Fla. Stat. (2008) (providing for reduced assessments when development rights are
transferred to state agencies or charitable corporations).

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Florida Environmental and Land Use Law
Summary of Florida Historic Preservation Law

June 2008

The effective use of TDR's presupposes that there is an area in which to transfer the
development rights. Regulation should determine which properties are eligible for TDRs,
designate a receiving area for the development rights, determine how much may be transferred,
and to transfer. Kass, supra at 5.3. & 5.3.1 (describing TDR programs in New York City,
Dallas, San Francisco and Seattle). There should also be a means of demonstrating a calculable
monetary value for the rights. See Juergensmeyer & Roberts, supra at 9.10. Although TDRs
alone will not save an otherwise confiscatory regulation, by helping to reduce the economic
impact of regulation, they can prevent valid regulation from rising to the level of a taking. See
Penn Central, 438 U.S. at 137; Hollywood, 432 So. 2d at 1338.42 Florida's new property rights
laws also mention TDRs specifically as a means of settlement and mitigation which may prevent
a government regulation from "inordinately burdening" private property. By preventing wipeout
of economic value through regulation, TDRs can be an effective additional support to a historic
preservation program.

42. But see Suitumv. Tahoe Reg. Planning Ag'y, 520 U.S. 725, 747-50 (1997) (Scalia, J., concurring)
(suggesting that TDR's should more properly be considered not in the context of whether a taking occurred but
rather as a possible payment); see also Julian Conrad Juegensmeyer et al., Transferrable Development Rights and
Alternatives After Suitum, 30 URB. LAW. 441, 462-64 (1998) (discussing implications of the Suitum decision).

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