Hometown Democracy foes (politely) square off listen09/01/10 Kate Bradshaw
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Many Floridians are fed up with the unchecked sprawl that defines much of the state’s landscape. In November voters may adopt a state constitutional amendment that lets them have a say in every land use change proposed in their communities. It’s Amendment 4, also known as Hometown Democracy. The idea has developers and local officials shaking in their boots. Today during a debate at a Suncoast Tiger Bay Club event, Sarasota lawyer and Amendment 4 proponent Dan Lobeck said it’s about time citizens had a chance to block big box stores and other developments they might not want.
Lawyer and St. Pete City Council Member Karl Nurse is against Amendment 4, and was Lobeck’s opponent in today’s debate. Citing a December 2009 editorial in the Palm Beach Post, he rattled off a long list of comp plan changes that would reportedly have to go to ballot. It included a capitol improvement element, an aquifer recharge element, and an airport master plan. He told the audience that voters would have had to vote on hundreds of changes over the past five years.
Lobeck said residents would actually only have to vote on only a handful of changes per year.
Nurse said the spirit of Amendment 4 makes sense, but the scope of the law is too sweeping.
Lobeck said it’s not the ballot language that’s too broad, but the power of developers and local governments.
The No-on-4 campaign claims that more than 267,000 jobs will be lost if Amendment 4 passes. But Lobeck said that number is skewed by at least two factors.
The two debated before a crowded room. Tiger Bay Club member Dale Gross said he came to the debate undecided.
Some local governments are making preparations in case the amendment does pass in November. Tomorrow, Karl Nurse and the rest of the St. Petersburg City Council will hold a final public hearing on an ordinance that would adopt a new comprehensive plan. It would replace the city’s current plan, which is hundreds of pages, with a single map.
Tomorrow’s meeting takes place in St. Pete City Council chambers at 8:30 in the morning.