Environmental groups rally against bill they call “death knell”

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Environmental groups are calling for the governor to veto a bill that they worry will limit environmental protection in Florida. One group calls the bill the “death knell” of growth management.

The bill would allow the party that wins to recover attorney fees in challenges to comprehensive plans and plan amendments. 1000 Friends of Florida and the Everglades Coalition sent a letter to the governor demanding a veto.

Jane West, Policy and Planning Director for 1000 Friends of Florida, expressed concern about the bill during a press conference on Wednesday.

“I have characterized this bill as the death knell to growth management in Florida, and it definitely is.”

The group worries that this will make legal challenges prohibitively expensive.

“We worked very, very hard this legislative session to try and soften the blow of this bill because as you can imagine, the chilling effect is going to lead to people simply not engaging in these challenges, leaving the state of Florida with a situation of sprawl that will be unprecedented.”

The group worked with Democratic Senator Tina Polsky and St. Petersburg Representative Lindsay Cross on an amendment to limit attorney fees, but it was rejected.

During the legislative session, the bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Nick DiCeglie, acknowledged that the bill discourages challenges.

“My view, the best way to deal with local governments and comprehensive plans that you don’t like is usually at the ballot box.”

The bill has been sent to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

 

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