Gov. Crist had built a solid environmental record. He championed the U.S. Sugar buyout to help restore the Everglades, and he proposed Florida's first renewable energy standards. He tarnished that record Monday by signing what the Legislature named the "Community Renewal Act" but what more accurately should be called the "No Growth Management Act."
Supporters say that Senate Bill 360 will improve the state's growth management efforts by removing unnecessary restrictions in urban areas. But the bill creates a ridiculous definition of "urban area." Tiny towns, such as 400-person Briny Breezes, qualify. So would rural areas along State Road 7. In all, eight counties and 245 cities qualify, including all cities in Palm Beach County along with Stuart, Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie on the Treasure Coast.
In urban areas, developers no longer will have to show that adequate roads exist to serve their projects. Large proposals no longer will have to meet rigorous Development of Regional Impact standards.
The loss of control over development will make it much harder to protect paradise. And does anyone blame Florida's economic woes on building too little? Since the Growth Management Act passed in 1985, Florida has added 7 million people.
IT IS NOW UP TO OUR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO PROTECT US FROM THIS BILL. They can choose to not enforce this through one of the loopholes in the bill, but our vigilance is now required.
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Wednesday, June 3
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