John DeGrove, considered the father of growth management laws in Florida, has died at age 87.
DeGrove for many years directed the Joint Center for Environmental and Urban Problems at Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University. He also an eminent scholar chair named for him in growth management and development at FAU, where he also taught political science.
As Florida’s secretary of the Department of Community Affairs from 1983 to 1985, DeGrove spearheaded the development and legislative approval of the landmark 1985 Growth Management Act and the State Comprehensive Plan. A fifth-generation Floridian, DeGrove also was one of the founding members of the state’s 1,000 Friends of Florida advocacy organization.
In 2001, on the 15th anniversary of 1,000 Friends’ founding, then-Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida Cabinet issued a resolution honoring DeGrove for his “decades of outstanding work on behalf of the people and natural resources of Florida.”
Then-U.S. Sen. Bob Graham at the time said of DeGrove, “I cannot imagine what problems would be facing our state today without your many years of wise counsel to several generations of planners and public policy leaders. There are few people in this state who have impacted each and every Floridian on a daily basis with such positive force as you.”
The growth management laws enacted during DeGrove’s time in Florida government shaped the state until last year.
Gov. Rick Scott, who campaigned against many of the state’s planning restrictions, signed into law legislation which eliminated state oversight of local planning, except when proposals with statewide impact are involved.
Standards for citizens challenging development projects also were toughened, giving builders more leeway to go ahead with projects they can prove will have some positive economic impact.
The legislation capped preceding three years of lawmakers chipping away at growth management provisions. Critics said the laws were overly burdensome and blunt the state’s ability to bounce back from an economic slump caused — paradoxically — by what many agree was overbuilding.
The legislation last year also eliminated the Department of Community Affairs, the main regulatory agency over development.