Agricultural Buildings Exempt from Zoning Regulations

by Lisa M. Boswell on Apr. 01, 2021

Real Estate Land Use & Zoning Industry Specialties  Agriculture Real Estate  Real Estate Other 

Summary: Appeals court held that Florida Statute 604.50 exempts nonresidential farm buildings, farm fences, and farm signs on land used for a bona fide agricultural purpose, as defined in 193.461, Florida Statutes, from any county or municipal code or fee, including building permit and zoning requirements.

In 2018, Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled that nonresidential farm buildings, farm fences, and farm signs on lands that are used for a bona fide agricultural purpose, as defined in §193.461, Fla. Stat. are not only exempt from building permit requirements, they are also exempt from zoning regulations.

In 14269 BT, LLC v. Village of Wellington, 240 So. 3d 1 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), a farm owner challenged citations issued by the Village of Wellington for the owner's failure to obtain building permits for 2 barns, a storage building, and a manure bin and for constructing more than 1 barn on agricultural property within the equestrian district. The case proceeded to a hearing before a Village of Wellington magistrate who ruled in favor of the Village. The corrective action required was substantial: the farm owner was ordered to tear down the second barn. The farm owner appealed to the Circuit Court of the 15th Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County which upheld the Village's decision in an unelaborated opinion. This decision was reviewed by the Fourth DCA, which concluded that the Circuit Court “departed from the essential requirements of the law” in contravention of the “plain language” of Florida Statute §604.50 This statute exempts “any nonresidential farm building, farm fence, or farm sign that is located on lands used for bona fide agricultural purposes” from “the Florida Building Code and any county or municipal code or fee, except for code provisions implementing local, state, or federal floodplain management regulations.” Until this case, there were no decisions interpreting the applicability of F.S. §604.50 to zoning regulations. This case sets important precedent for farm owners in the state of Florida. Please contact my office if you have any questions or if I can be of assistance to you.


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