Environmentalists decry House Bill 7203

05/29/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Community Activists up in arms about HB 2703

 

A Growth Management   bill soon to go to Governor Charlie Crist has environmentalists and local neighborhood advocates concerned.

 

Critics of House Bill 7203 say quite simply, it makes it easier for development to occur.

Lorraine Margeson is a community activist on growth issues in St. Petersburg.

(roll tape#1 o.q.”request”)

It also establishes a pilot program in several communities, including Tampa and Pinellas County,  to avoid state review for numerous development projects.  Again, Lorraine Margeson (roll tape# 2o.q.”of the DCA”)

 


The DCA is the state’s Department of Community Affairs.  John Peck is the director of Public Affairs at the DCA (roll tape#3 o.q. “in the future”)

 The development community is said to be excited about the bill’s passage.  For developers, the program would reduce the amount of time it takes to push through governmental hurdles for many projects.   Ron Weaver is a land use attorney based in Tampa (roll tape )The environmental group 1,000 Friends of Florida is NOT advocating a veto by Governor Crist.  They say the bill is much better now than it looked in its earlier incarnation  

Charles Pattison is President and CEO of 1,000 Friends of Florida.   (roll tape#4 o.q.”substantially cut back”)

 

As it stands now, the Pilot Program includes Pinellas County and its municipalities, Broward County, plus the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg Jacksonville & Miami are part of the experiment.


The St. Pete Times reported that State Senator Ronda Storms tried to eliminate Tampa from being included, to no avail.

 

1,000 Friends of Florida says their goal is to have DCA Head Thomas Pelham work on changing the bill during next year’s legislative session.

 

Current Florida law gives local governments and developers a maximum of 10 years, but usually between 3 and 5 years, to fix or build local roads after a development has been approved.

 

But under the proposed bill, that could go as long as 20 years. 1,000 Friends of Florida CEO Charles   Pattison said that could be a serious problem, particularly when adding the issue of water to the mix (roll tape#5 o.q.”development approved”)

 

Land Use Attorney Ron Weaver responds (roll tape#5 o.q.”\to go to Charles point”)

 

The bill has NOT yet been sent to Governor Crist for his signature.  But activists like Lorraine Margeson have hope that with enough letters, they can convince him to veto it

(roll tape#6 oq..”and veto this bill”)

 WMNF attempted to speak to the Senate sponsor of the Bill, Republican Rudy Garcia…he did not return our call for comment.

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