The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners held a special workshop Wednesday to discuss issues regarding the current and future status of the Rate of Growth Ordinance (ROGO) for unincorporated Monroe County.
In 2012, the State of Florida issued unincorporated Monroe County 1,970 ROGO permits through 2023, which placed the evacuation modeling at the maximum of the required 24-hour hurricane evacuation clearance time. The County releases 126 market rate allocations a year and has enough allocation left to continue this annual rate, through 2023. It also has a set number of affordable allocations available.
After the 1,970 permits are issued, it is estimated there will be approximately 6,000 privately owned vacant parcels in unincorporated Monroe County with zoning for residential permitting.
At the meeting, the BOCC directed staff to begin processing Comprehensive Plan and Code amendments necessary to extend the distribution of current ROGO allocations through the year 2026. This will decrease the annual allocation from 126 permits to approximately 63 per year.
This change will allow the County more time to take action to continue to acquire land and retire building rights to reduce takings liability in the future. It also allows more time to react to a new hurricane evacuation model that will be conducted by the State of Florida and should be available by 2023. The State of Florida will take the 2020 census data to re-evaluate the hurricane evacuation model to make the determination if there is room for more allocations for the County and municipalities.
The BOCC also decided to wait until a later date to decide whether to accept the additional 300 workforce housing ROGO units offered to unincorporated Monroe County through the State of Florida’s recent Workforce Housing Initiative. If the County were to take the units the county would be required to adopt policy that would require the people who live in these units to evacuate in the early evacuation phase of a hurricane, similar to visitors.
The State has offered a total of 1,300 additional workforce housing units countywide. So far, Key West, Marathon and Islamorada have processed amendments to accept their respective 300 units, for a total of 900 units.
The BOCC also discussed staff recommended preliminary ideas for policy changes, programs and other actions that could help the County reduce potential takings liability in the future. The BOCC asked staff to look further into several of the ideas.
With the BOCC direction given Wednesday, County staff will work on drafting the language for a 2026 extension and will start the community input process before final action is taken at a future BOCC meeting.