May 18, 2011 – Two of Florida’s leading statesmen are calling on Governor Rick Scott to veto HB 7207 and establish a bipartisan commission to recommend workable improvements to Florida’s growth management process. This sweeping HB 7207 passed in the final hours of the 2011 Legislative Session and decimates Florida’s landmark 1985 Growth Management Act and its predecessors which date back to the administration of Governor Claude Kirk.
Former Democratic Senator and Governor Bob Graham and prominent Republican Nathaniel Pryor Reed, Chairman of the Florida Department of Air and Water Pollution Control from 1968-71 and Assistant Secretary of the Interior under Presidents Nixon and Ford, have sent Governor Scott a letter outlining their objections to the bill and calling for creation of a bipartisan commission to address growth. A number of notable Floridians from across the state and political parties have concurred and have signed onto the letter.
“Florida’s growth management system was developed and has evolved as a result of careful, informed, bipartisan dialogue on how Florida should grow and develop,” explains Senator Graham, who served as Governor of this state from 1979 to 1987. “HB 7207 sweeps away decades of effort from a broad cross-section of stakeholders—including business leaders, environmentalists, scientists and concerned citizens—to manage growth in a manner that protects this state’s quality of life for residents and visitors and ensure long-term economic prosperity for Florida.”
“If signed into law, HB 7207 would undermine some of the very hallmarks of growth management in Florida,” says Mr. Reed of Hobe Sound. “The bill would restrict the ability of the state to oversee projects with regional or statewide impacts, dramatically reduce citizen involvement in land and water use decisions, and undermine the concept that developers should pay their fair share of the costs of infrastructure supporting new development.”
The 1985 Act was developed in response to serious environmental crises combined with the state’s dramatically growing population. Beginning in the 1960s, many parts of the state began facing serious water shortages and poor water quality due in part to development in inappropriate locations. Local governments approved new development without considering who would pay to build the new roads, sewer systems and schools needed to serve the new development. Taxpayers were faced with accepting a declining quality of life or paying higher taxes to undo the damage caused by unplanned new development.
“Florida’s 1985 Growth Management Act evolved out of extreme citizen outrage over the impacts of poorly planned development,” says Senator Graham. “There is no need to repeat the mistakes of the past,” concludes Mr. Reed. Both men concur that Florida deserves a deliberative and informed debate on how to best manage the impacts of growth in the 21st century.
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