Thursday, October 28, 2010
CONFUSED ABOUT AMENDMENT 4?
CALL Alert for for October 26, 2010 - CALL Alert -
Dear David Israel,
On November 2nd you have the opportunity to vote on an amendment to the Florida Constitution known as Amendment 4. The amendment is also known as “Hometown Democracy” or “Slow-Growth Amendment.” The amendment addresses a very important topic with many Florida citizens expressing strong opinions on both sides of the issue.
Amendment 4's official ballot title is:
Referenda required for adoption and amendment of local government comprehensive land use plans.
The official ballot summary is:
Establishes that before a local government may adopt a new comprehensive land use plan, or amend a comprehensive land use plan, the proposed plan or amendment shall be subject to vote of the electors of the local government by referendum, following preparation by the local planning agency, consideration by the governing body and notice. Provides definitions.
The initial goal of the amendment was to require a vote for land use plan changes. There is some disagreement between the two groups either in favor of the amendment or against the amendment whether ALL changes to the comprehensive plan are affected or just changes to the land use plan section of the comprehensive plan. One reason for this confusion is that nowhere in State Statute is the term “local government comprehensive plans” used or defined. The comprehensive plan is the State mandated planning document required for all local governments to guide their budgeting, capital improvements, infrastructure upgrades, future growth and many other day-to-day government operational issues.
Accommodating future population growth, also known as land use plan amendments, is the area that most supporters of Amendment 4 are most concerned with. Proposals to change land-use plans are reviewed by the local planning commission, then announced and discussed at public hearings. County and City Commissioners then decide on the changes after recommendations are prepared by various state agencies and approved by the Florida Department of Community Affairs. This amendment, if adopted, would then require a public referendum before the proposed changes are implemented. However, under the Amendment 4 scenario updating the budget to reflect new grant revenue and funding water and sewer improvements would require a vote of the electorate. Emergency projects and needed improvements may have to wait until adequately reflected in the capital improvement element.
According to a report prepared by an online encyclopedia, there were over six thousand (6,000) changes to local comprehensive land use plans in a single year. If even half of that amount required a public vote, the cost to taxpayers could be substantial, regardless of whether many proposals are lumped together on one ballot. The opponents of Amendment 4 contend that the costs and inevitable delays of public referenda could have a chilling effect on development and adversely impact the economic recovery.
This is a complex and important issue. Accordingly, CALL encourages its members to educate themselves on this issue and to make an informed decision before casting their ballots in the upcoming election.
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