The rapid growth in Hillsborough County means its Land Use Appeals Board is kept busy as residents, businesses and developers seek reviews of zoning and permitting decisions.

By Brad Stager

Hillsborough County Land Development Code sets forth the rules and requirements for properties within the county. When a property owner’s plans don’t match up with existing land use rules, codes, laws and neighborhood sentiments, the code also establishes procedures to resolve conflicts over things like permitted usage, fence heights or signage variances.

Such conflicts often end with a determination by a Land Use Hearing Officer, but when a concerned party is not satisfied with that decision, the matter can go before what is known as the Land Use Appeals Board (LUAB). It is where appeals of decisions of the Land Use Hearing Officer on special exceptions and variances from zoning regulations, as well as special use permits, are heard.

The seven members of the Land Use Appeals Board are local residents who are appointed by the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners. They bring their professional expertise in the areas of development, business, construction, real estate and law.

Specific professions represented by members of the LUAB are: attorney, architect or landscape architect, business owner or operator, professional planner, civil or environmental engineer, member of a civic or neighborhood organization and a developer who is active in Hillsborough County or a licensed general contractor.

As a board of appeal, the body can only consider the hearing officer’s decision and the existing official record of the original hearing pertaining to the topic of consideration. No new testimony or evidence is permitted and the board will also determine whether an individual or other entity has standing in an appeal.

Possible outcomes of a hearing before the LUAB are that the board can uphold the hearing officer’s decision, send it back to the hearing officer with guidance from the board or, under strict criteria, overturn a decision.

“The key determination is whether the evidence in the record supports the decision made,” said Assistant County Attorney Cameron Clark, prior to a recent meeting.

Meetings are held on the afternoon of the first Friday of each month, unless there are no appeals to consider. Because of the pandemic, meetings are held in a hybrid mode with those having a direct interest in the hearing attending either remotely or online, while the general public can only attend virtually.

To learn how the LUAB operates or about serving on it, visit or contact Citizens Boards Support at 272-7181.

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