Hometown Democracy Debate at Tiger Bay listen02/19/10 Arielle Stevenson
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Hundreds of thousands of Florida voters signed the petition for Amendment 4, the Hometown Democracy amendment, which requires voter approval on changes in land use. Advocates on both sides of the issue duked it out today at the Tiger Bay club in Tampa. Dan Lobeck, a Sarasota attorney specializing in land use decisions, spoke in support of the amendment.
The Comprehensive Land Use Plan determines maximum densities and intensities of a community. The plan also maps out other rules for the further growth of a community.
But Ryan Houck, executive director for Floridians for Smarter Growth, which opposes Hometown Democracy, says Amendment 4 will further politicize the process.
St. Pete Beach implemented a similar program at a local level in 2006. Lobeck says that program was an overall success.
But Houck says the one case which went into litigation exemplifies exactly why Amendment 4 is a bad idea.
Yesterday, in a 4-2 decision, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of hometown democracy supporters. People who opposed the amendment had contended that many who had signed had done so under false pretenses. Lobeck says this decision shows tactics of slander on the part of opposition.
Houck says he respects the court’s decision but feels those signature revocation efforts were valid.
According to Lobeck, one of the tactics being used by opponents of Amendment 4 is warning that there will be easier access to land use for adult-themed businesses.
Adult club owner Joe Redner was in the audience and confronted Houck directly on the accusation. Houck responded.
But Lobeck disagreed with Houck’s response.
Lorraine Duffy Swareze, a professional planner who has worked on comprehensive plans throughout her career, said she is against the amendment.
Thalia Potter, a community activist in Tampa Bay, says she is still uncertain on the issue.
WMNF will continue to bring you coverage on Amendment 4 until November.