House seeking two-thirds help for developersby John Kennedy | March 15th, 2011
House members signalled Tuesday they fear being on the losing end of legal challenges filed by cities to 2009 legislation which relaxed growth management standards.
The legislation, SB 360, eased back on state laws requiring developers to help underwrite the cost of new schools, roads and other infrastructure needs tied to new projects in urban areas. Backers said the shift would help blunt urban sprawl, by giving developers more of an incentive to build within crowded areas.
But cities sued — saying the changes would shift costs away from developers to taxpayers. And a Leon County Circuit judge agreed in 2010, declaring the measure unconstitutional, sending an appeal to Tallahassee’s First District Court of Appeal.
Lawmakers, though, don’t seem to feel good about their chances.
Instead, the Legislature’s planned fix will take shape Wednesday with the House expected to try to reenact the measure off the books since the judge’s ruling.
Powered by super-majorities in the House and Senate, ruling Republicans can revive the costly shift to local governments with two-thirds support. A 1990 constitutional amendment allows lawmakers to pass on such unfunded mandates –but only when two-thirds of each chamber agrees.
“It simply reenacts state law and gives developers and local governments some certainty about the law we passed in 2009,” said Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, sponsor of this year’s proposal (HB 7001).
The Leon court, in its 2010 ruling, said the developer-friendly law would require almost 250 Florida cities to submit comprehensive plan amendments to comply with the law at a cost of $15,000 each, or roughly $3.7 million statewide.