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2016 changes to the Palm Beach County Comprehensive Plan, to accommodate the sale of development rights from Agricultural Reserve area residential properties with agricultural activity.
In 2016, the Board of County Commissioners amended the Palm Beach County Comprehensive Plan, to recognize certain agricultural operations with residences on site as eligible preserves for 60/40 Planned Unit Developments (60/40 AGR-PUDs). This change allows the sale of development rights and the creation of preserve areas on properties having both an existing or planned single-family dwelling unit and an agricultural use.
Prior to this amendment, a minimum of 5 acres was required (or less if a legal lot of record), for any unit not in a planned development. Property-owners could sell development rights for use in a 60/40 AGR-PUD from the balance of the property, but needed to “set aside” 5 acres to meet the density requirement for the unit on the property.
The 2016 amendment allows property-owners having a documented active agricultural use to sell development rights from all but the 1+ acre necessary to accommodate the dwelling unit and any other uses not permitted in a preserve area.
The specific language adopted in the Comprehensive Plan can be viewed here.
In order to implement this provision, the following process is established:
1. A property-owner requests a Letter of Determination from the Palm Beach County Planning Division (link to request form), and provides the required demonstration of a bona fide agricultural use. Agricultural use is documented through either:
a. a valid agricultural tax classification* from the Property Appraiser’s Office; or,
b. a sworn affidavit (link to affidavit form) of bona fide agricultural use and supporting documentation reflecting current use and for the three prior, consecutive years.
*Agricultural classification is granted by the Property Appraiser to properties that qualify as bona fide commercial agricultural use of the land. Information regarding agricultural classification is available at the Property Appraiser Website or by contacting the Property Appraiser’s Office at 561-355-2646 or
2. The Planning Director issues a Letter of Determination for an eligible property. The Letter will normally be issued within 10 business days for properties providing a valid agricultural classification from the Property Appraiser, and within 30 days for all others. The letter of determination will:
a. confirm eligibility to sell development rights for use in a 60/40 AGR-PUD, at the rate of one unit per acre, excluding one acre for the existing or planned dwelling unit, and acreage for any other uses not acceptable in preserve areas;
b. remain valid for a period of three years.
3. The purchaser of the development rights will:
a. ensure that the letter is valid (unexpired) at the time of final approval of the 60/40 AGR-PUD where the development rights will be applied. If the letter is expired, a new Letter of Determination will be required.
b. Secure a survey describing all structures and uses, and the boundary of the proposed conservation easement, reflecting that:
i. The proposed conservation easement is configured in one continuous piece and excludes any uses not permitted in a preserve;
ii. The proposed residential area contains a minimum of 1 acre, in a single piece that is reasonably compact and contains the existing or proposed dwelling unit and any uses associated with the dwelling unit; and,
iii. The proposed residential area is situated so that any existing or proposed dwelling unit and accessory structures are located at least five feet from all existing or proposed conservation easements.
c. Record the conservation easement as required by the development order approval.
4. The property-owner will:
a. Be limited to one single family dwelling unit per parcel, (the property described by a single property control number as configured on January 1, 2016). A caretaker’s quarter as defined in the Unified Land Development Code shall not be considered a dwelling unit for the purposes of this provision.
b. Limit uses within the preserve area to those permitted by the conservation easement;
c. Situate the dwelling unit (if one does not exist) and any accessory uses and other uses not permitted in the preserve area in the portion of the property not covered by the conservation easement, and at least five feet from all existing or proposed conservation easements. Note that any change to the configuration of the conservation easement once recorded will require a development order amendment for the 60/40 AGR-PUD where the transferred development rights were applied.
With this process, the property-owner determines the most suitable timeframe for each aspect: establishing the agricultural use (if currently not active), requesting the letter of determination, selling the development rights, and constructing the dwelling unit (if not existing). Preserve areas subject to a conservation easement recorded prior to Jan 1, 2016 are not eligible to accommodate dwelling units through this provision.
For any questions relating to this provision or the Letter of Determination process, please contact the Planning Division at
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