Managed Growth Tier System History


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Palm Beach County encompasses 2,023 square miles and is located in South Florida between Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades and the Atlantic Ocean. The region contains some of the nation's most environmentally sensitive ecosystems and significant agricultural areas. It depends on agriculture, tourism, growth and a seasonal population to sustain its economy.

Currently, citizens have a choice of lifestyles: they can live in town, in the suburbs or on a farm. Rapid population growth, expected to exceed 1.43 million by 2020, threatens the County's ability to sustain natural resources, its agriculture base and diverse lifestyle choices. In 1998, the Sierra Club ranked the County as the most sprawl-threatened medium sized metropolitan area in the nation. Fifty years of suburban growth have threatened to diminish the quantity and quality of urban, rural and even suburban lifestyle choices. This growth has had many unintended consequences, the most significant of which is jeopardizing the fragile Everglades ecosystem and threatening the future of the region's water supply to the point that regional water managers in conjunction with the Federal government, are undertaking the largest ecosystem restoration project in the world.

The County adopted the Managed Growth Tier System in 1999, to readdress the framework for managing growth in order to protect the future quality of life. The Tier System recognizes the County's diversity by delineating five distinct geographic regions. Established as Tiers, these areas have common characteristics such as development patterns, densities/intensities, and public service availability. The Tiers include: Urban/Suburban (which includes Redevelopment and Revitalization Areas), Exurban, Rural, Agricultural Reserve and the Glades.

The Tier System protects natural resources and guides land use planning and design decisions by considering the community's physical and social needs. Strategies, either through restrictions or incentives, have been adopted to:

  • Protect and enhance each Tier's unique characteristics and quality of life;

  • Promote job opportunities and a healthy economy;

  • Prioritize and coordinate the delivery of public services at appropriate levels for each tier;

  • Protect and preserve open space and natural resources, and encourage their connectivity;

  • Prevent suburban sprawl by guiding development's location, mix and form;

  • Improve the connections between home, work and shopping; and

  • Create livable and sustainable cities, towns, suburbs and rural communities.

By building on a foundation established through studies and planning efforts initiated by County Planners in the early 1900's, and by integrating active public participation and a consensus building approach into the planning process, the public has embraced this smart growth initiative. Broad-based public participation and support was the key to successful passage of Palm Beach County's Managed Growth Tier System.

MGTS Links: 

Tier System Program
Objectives and Policies
Policy Development & Consensus Procedures

Agricultural Reserve Tier
Glades Tier
Redevelopment/Revitalization Overlay
Urban/Suburban Tier
Conservation Areas
Exurban Tier
Rural Tier