Crist signs growth-management bill listen06/02/09 Mitch E. Perry
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As we reported last night, without ceremony Gov. Charlie Crist has signed Senate Bill 360, also known as the Community Renewal Act, into law. The bill was sponsored by Bradenton Sen. Mike Bennett, who is also a developer.
Bennett says the rewrite of growth-management regulations will bring common sense to outdated and frustrating rules, untie the hands of developers and jolt a badly stalled economy with a burst of new construction.
Hillsborough County environmental activist Denise Layne agreed it would spur new construction. But she said the legislation went far awry from what was needed to address current growth management problems.
Layne says what the Legislature and governor have done is thrown away a flawed system, and put very little in its place.
Pro-development groups are hailing SB 360. Florida Chamber of Commerce President Mark Wilson said the stateâ€™s employers were grateful to the governor and the Legislature forâ€ aggressively confronting the economic challenges facing our state with a thoughtful, reasoned package of legislation that will create jobs and get Florida moving again.â€
But many others donâ€™t see it that way. Damian Filer is political director with the group Progress Florida, based in Tallahassee. He calls Cristâ€™s signing of SB 360 "a shame," and says it flies in the face of Floridians.
The governorâ€™s own Department of Community Affairs Secretary, Tom Pelham, expressed serious reservations about the legislation, prior to its final passage.
Just last week, Pelham called the bill most significant growth management bill to be passed by the Legislature since the 1985 Growth Management Act.
Eight counties including Hillsborough, penned letters to the governor, begging that he not sign the bill. The Florida League of Counties also lobbied for SB 360 to be vetoed.
Critics complain that the bill would allow counties to designate "urban service areas," with only limited review by state regulators. Their concern is that it will open the door to increased rural development.
Cragin Mosteller from the Florida League of Counties says the new law ties the hands of local governments.
Layne says environmentalists throughout Florida are extremely disappointed in Gov. Crist. And Layne and several other environmentalists today said that the passage of SB 360 only increases the chances of the Hometown Democracy Movement Amendment of getting on the 2010 ballot. That measure would demand that citizens have the chance to vote for comprehensive plan amendments approved by city and county commissions. That organization is still gathering signatures to qualify to get on next yearâ€™s ballot in Florida.