Apalachee RPC Assists with Broadband Planning
Access to fast and reliable internet is an essential service whether in a rural or urban community. It greatly improves quality of life providing easier access to government services, telehealth, and distance learning. In partnership with the Florida State University Barnebey Planning & Development Lab, the Apalachee RPC recently completed a Broadband Feasibility Study for both Liberty and Wakulla counties. Funded through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Rural Infrastructure Fund grant program, the Studies focus on determining areas of insufficient broadband infrastructure, identifying potential service providers, and determining the needed improvements and associated costs for construction of broadband infrastructure. Community input remained a high priority throughout the project, and staff provided 25 in-person opportunities for citizens of Liberty and Wakulla counties to provide feedback on broadband internet accessibility and affordability.

As rural counties generally have smaller populations and more limited government resources, collaboration is essential to achieving wide-spread broadband access. Recognizing the benefits of addressing broadband as a region, the Apalachee RPC applied for and received funding through the Florida DEO Community Planning Technical Assistance grant program to establish a Regional Technology Planning Team and create a Regional Broadband Plan and Broadband Map. The project represents an extension of the on-going local- and state-level broadband planning efforts by serving to fill the gap and align efforts between state and local planning projects.

The Apalachee Regional Technology Planning Team consists of a representative from each of the nine counties as well as necessary stakeholders from public and private sectors. Once completed, the Apalachee Regional Broadband Plan will serve as a guide for local decision makers in expanding broadband internet coverage in their communities. The Plan will also outline steps for future projects to expand access and identify challenges in the construction and operation of broadband infrastructure. In addition, Council staff is gathering data and developing an online, interactive, regional broadband map for use in understanding needs and filling gaps in the Apalachee Region’s digital divide. The Apalachee Regional Broadband Plan and Map will ensure that the predominantly rural, nine-county Apalachee Region is in the best possible position to access state, federal, and private resources for broadband network expansion.
East Central Florida RPC Assists with Low Impact Development
The East Central Florida RPC and partners from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Services and Volusia County welcomed nearly 100 community leaders from public, nonprofit, and private sectors to engage in action-oriented conversations around implementing Low Impact Development (LID) around the region and throughout the state. The half-day workshop identified key challenges to implementing LID and Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI). Break-put groups brainstormed strategies to improve water quality and reduce flooding through resilient, nature-based stormwater solutions. Additionally, mechanisms and incentives to incorporate and emphasize LID in site planning and stormwater management were discussed. The workshop was hosted at Volusia County’s Lyonia Environmental Center, a hands-on educational attraction that helped highlight the need for nature-based, low-impact standards. Next, the partnership will review the workshop findings with the goal of helping local governments and entities throughout Florida implement LID and GSI principles.
The project, which is funded through a Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Community Planning Technical Assistance Grant awarded to Volusia County, will now move into an action-focused phase. Spring meetings have been scheduled to present workshop highlights, draft LID ordinances, and companion LID Implementation Guidebook to regional stakeholders for feedback. The project team will present workshop findings to the region’s permitting agencies for discussion on how the agencies and East Central Florida RPC can help encourage and ease the implementation of LID and GSI. The project team will ultimately develop LID Ordinance recommendations and a companion LID Implementation Guidebook for Volusia County that will be made available regionally in an upcoming webinar and on the Council website in late spring.

South Florida and Treasure Coast RPCs Host Joint Meeting
The South Florida and Treasure Coast RPCs recently held its Annual Joint Meeting at the Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center in Davie, Florida. The South Florida and Treasure Coast RPCs have a long history of collaborative planning efforts dating back several decades. The meeting featured updates from state and local experts on:

  • 2023 Florida Legislative Session;
  • Florida’s Coral Reef Protection and Restoration initiatives and federal coral reef legislation;
  • Marine Research Hub;
  • Southeast Florida Restoration and Flood Control Planning and Projects;
  • Proposed state affordable housing legislation; and
  • Statewide water infrastructure challenges and opportunities.

For additional information, please visit SFRPC/TCRPC Feb 2023 Joint Meeting Materials and Information.