Acquiring a building permit in the Florida Keys is regulated by the ROGO system. Applications are required to earn a set amount of points, depending on their designation. 30 points per application are needed for approval of Tier 3 properties, which are designated as buildable land in the Keys, and typically are the most common. While each application can earn 2 points per year, known as perseverance points, a more active approach can speed up the process.
Aggregation is a great way to earn points, and increase the lot size of your home at the same time. Basically, this is when you combine two contiguous, vacant, buildable, legally plotted lots together for the purpose of building one unit. By ROGO standards, this halves the population that would come out of a given property, and thus earns the owner a total of four points. For a Tier 3a property, which is seen as more environmentally sensitive, points are only awarded if no native habitats are destroyed.
Land dedication or donation will also earn an applicant ROGO points. This is the process of donating parcels of buildable land to Monroe County. Plots of land must be at least 5,000 square feet, platted, vacant, and buildable to qualify. The amount of points granted depends on the zoning of the parcel, and range anywhere from .5 to 4 points. The maximum four points are given for donations of one full acre of buildable land.
Another option is fund donation. This is a cash donation to the Monroe County Environmental Restoration and Land Management Fund. This county fund is used to buy property for development rights often to be used for affordable Florida Keys housing. The maximum amount of points available through fund donation is two.
A lesser utilized method of point acquisition is by proposing projects to aid Monroe County. Proposition of projects for aiding the central wastewater problem, or ideas to build multiple-unit affordable housing, once accepted, can earn application points as well. Four points are possible for central wastewater projects, and a whopping six points are possible for affordable housing projects.
Once the appropriate number of points have been reached on an application, it is still a competition to get chosen for a building permit. An average of 700-800 applications are up for permits each year, with only approximately 250 earning the permit. Environmentally friendly projects added to proposed Florida Keys homes will also add points to a ROGO application. Simple additions like impact-resistant windows and extra insulation can go a long way in propelling a ROGO application to the top of the heap.
Though the complete ROGO cycle, from application to issuance of a building permit, can take years, knowing how to earn more points quickly can be important in getting the building permit you need.