Growth management legislation clears first committee

Three growth management bills that are intended to address a judge’s ruling last summer passed their first Senate committee stop on Tuesday.

In August, Circuit Judge Charles Francis in Tallahassee ruled that the 2009 growth management overhaul in SB 360 was unconstitutional because they represented an unfunded mandate for cities and counties and because the bill included more than one subject. The ruling is being appealed by the House and Senate.

SB 360 removed requirements that developers pay for new roads and removed state oversight of growth management in newly-designated “dense urban land areas.” Environmental groups opposed the bill, saying the designation includes rural areas and the measure would encourage urban sprawl.

Those same provisions are included in SB 174 by Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton and chairman of the Senate Committee on Community Affairs. The bill passed out of the committee 7-2 on Tuesday after Bennett said they were needed to protect developers who had sought permits under SB 360.

Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Brandon, and Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, voted against SB 174. Storms said she opposed SB 360 in 2009 because it would exempt developers from having to pay for new roads and would allow development in rural areas.

SB 172, dealing with security cameras, and SB 176, dealing with affordable housing, passed the committee without opposition. Both bills were introduced by Bennett and dealt with issues that were in SB 360 in 2009.

Bennett said he does not expect other major growth management reform legislation to be proposed until local governments have had a chance to implement SB 360. But he said he expects to file a bill to address what he says is permitting duplication among state agencies and unnecessary scrutiny of engineers.

“I don’t understand why we have government paid engineers who work for your agency reviewing government-paid engineers who work for his agency,” Bennett said. “That’s bull—- when you think about it.”

(Story provided by the Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting