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House agrees to lift most growth management laws

by John Kennedy | April 21st, 2011

Florida’s once-vaunted growth management laws would be sharply scaled-back under legislation approved 86-31 Thursday by the Republican-ruled House, in a mostly party-line vote.

Supporters of the bill (CS/HB 7129) said existing laws have grown outdated and prove an obstacle to a state that still looks to development to help drive economic recovery. Also, they said the state should play a reduced role in local development decisions.

“We have one-size fits all growth management that no longer makes sense,” said Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami.

The measure eliminates state oversight of local planning except when proposals with statewide impact are involved.

Standards for citizens challenging development projects also would be toughened, giving builders more leeway to go ahead with projects they can prove will have some positive economic impact.

Concurrency — a provision that requires that schools, parks and adequate roads are in place before development is completed, would be reduced to an option for cities and counties to demand of developers. It’s currently mandatory.

“This will bring us back to the days of poor planning and sprawl,” said Rep. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach.

Florida has had growth management laws on the books since 1972. But they were toughened under former Gov. Bob Graham in 1985 in what was seen as landmark legislation nationally.

 Those standards have endured and generally were strengthened in subsequent years.

 But lawmakers over the past three years have chipped away at growth management — criticizing the law as overly burdensome and blunting the state’s ability to bounce back from an economic slump caused — paradoxically — by what many agree was overbuilding.

Along with lifting growth management requirements, Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature have targeted for elimination the state’s Department of Community Affairs, the main regulatory agency over development.

Legislation (CS/SB 1122) similar to that approved by the House is still waiting a full Senate vote. But senators, too, have expressed support for rolling back growth management laws to jump-start the economy.

Rep. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, said Republican leaders were wrongheaded in their approach. Florida still faces a huge backlog of homes and commercial buildings for sale, and is among the nation’s leaders in foreclosures.

“We don’t need any more strip malls, we don’t need any more condos,” Soto said. “Until we get through this foreclosure crisis, our economy will never recover.”

But Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, said it was time for state government to back away from local issues. He called the legislation, the “next generation of growth management.”

Still, House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders of Key West said that the only industry likely to improve under the bill is that of criminal defense attorneys, needed by city and county officials who fall under the sway of  developers.

“We are overreacting to this economy by trying to wipe out growth management,” Saunders said.

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16 Responses to “House agrees to lift most growth management laws”

  1. HM Says:

    Republicans did this. Remember that.

    Republicans bought and paid for by the same scummy builders who have been trashing Florida for 40 years.

    In 2020…when you’re sitting in bumper to bumper traffic everywhere, when we live and die by Los Angeles-style ‘smog alerts’, when you’ve got stone and pebbles for your front lawn because there’s no fresh water left, when it takes 90 minutes to drive 9 miles…and when the strip malls and cookie cutter houses sprawl all the way west to Ft Myers……you remember this day. The day a bunch of hick scumbags ran wild over our state to line their pockets and those of their corrupt, hit and run developer friends.

  2. M Says:

    Yay, soon what little bit of vacant land we have left will be a parking lot or a condo with no infrastructure.

  3. tom Says:

    Florida has permits in place ALREADY that will TRIPLE the population statewide, so ignoring sustainable growth practices is suicide for our state. Sad, sad, sad, sad, sad. Scott should hang his head in the corner, or be sent there. Developers and their lobbyists have won the day, and we can expect more empty stores and homes without the water supply. As an example, it takes 3,000 gallons of water to maintain a golf course for EACH round of golf. STUPID!

  4. Plead the 5th 75 Times Says:

    A decision that defies all logic. FloriDUH at its finest.

  5. Educator Says:

    Not to worry,despite Bargain Basement Real Estate and Taxes, the State Govenment is vindictive and the governor is a self proclaimed Christian Fascist. This isn’t California, they won’t be flocking to move here.

  6. Eric Says:

    I normally agree with pro business legislation, but this is just retarded.
    Those who didn’t vote YES for Amendment 4 must wish they had that vote to do over.
    On a positive note, this will save developers a fortune. Now they’ll only have to “influence” local commissioners, who come cheap!

  7. Anthony Says:

    I am a Republican.

    This is NOT what the fight against big government is about. Some things should be regulated. Our precious state is at stake, and growth should be managed by the state government.

    I’m sad to say that Florida Republicans are out of their minds.

    NOTHING is more important than our land, our water quality, our air quality. This is our home.

    I hope your developer buddies pay you enough as consultants to supplement your unemployment income. You will not be re-elected.

    (Feel free to copy and paste this comment on all other blogs/articles if you, too, are an angry Republican)

  8. Carol Says:

    I am a republican too and I agree with Anthony. I expected to see repubs effect public fiscal responsibility and instead they have taken their chance and are using it to support greed run amok. I love Florida for the beauty and clean air and water, lots of outdoor recreation and they are ruining it. Can’t wait till the next elections!! You’re Fired!!

  9. King Koch Says:

    STOP VOTING FOR KOCH WHORES!!!!!

  10. JupiterGuy Says:

    So who’s up for paving the Everglades for use a a Disney parking lot?

  11. Bob W. Says:

    I am an independent voter who usually sides with the Republicans, but I am totally opposed to any unregulated growth. The builders have done a great job of ruining this state as is. They damn sure don’t need carte blanche.

  12. Fed Up Says:

    To all the Republican voters when are you going to realize that this is not the party of your father? In Florida this is a party of special interest that seeks to benefit themselves. A special thanks to Commissioner Marcus who has already said that this is not good. Hopefully Palm Beach County keeps current restrictions in place. This is one Republican who thinks of all citizens.

  13. Harry Says:

    This bill all but insures that sprawl and over-development will ruin what quality of life remains in Florida.

    Local commissioners will make a fortune selling land use changes to developers, and Taxpayers will be picking up the cost of the services and infrastructure for decades!

  14. RB Says:

    What a paradox! The state needs to back away from local issues when it comes to growth management, but pensions, local severance pay and requirements for local schools are all within their purview? Doesn’t really matter though, since developers are hard pressed to get financing for a project given the current conditions of the real estate market.

  15. Nancy Says:

    Maybe when everyone moves out of Florida due to the fact that it is unlivable, the developers won’t be able to sell anything and that is the only way they will stop.
    Are people starting to wake up to the fact that the desire for money is the root of all evil.

  16. Big Johnson Says:

    The US Census Bureau has reported that 1 in 5 homes in Florida is empty. There are scores of empty strip malls and commercial areas. Where is this additional development needed?

    I am another disgusted republican.

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