Department of Community Affairs Secretary Billy Buzzett and Governor Scott’s administration drew a packed house at their first workshop on implementation of the sweeping changes by the Legislature to Florida’s Growth Management Act. A large number in attendance are expressing concerns about the impact of the legislation on Florida’s natural resources and quality of life.
Representatives of local governments, regional planning councils, and environmental and civic groups directed questions to Buzzett and Tom Beck, his choice to head the new Division of Community Planningwhich will take over Growth Management functions at the state level in October. October will also see the demise of the Department of Community Affairs, and the creation of a new agency known as the “Department of Economic Opportunity.”
The first workshop in Sarasota on June 21 was attended by Charles Lee, Audubon of Florida’s Director of Advocacy and Brad Cornell, representing the Collier County Audubon Society. Lee asked Buzzett whether the economic development mission of the “Department of Economic Opportunity” would restrict or “contaminate” the ability of the Division of Community Planning to exercise independent judgment on local government plan amendments that might threaten “important state resources or facilities”.
Under the new act, the Division of Community Planning is still charged with challenging local government plans that threaten such resources, including important natural resources such as key ecosystems, wildlife habitats, the Everglades, water quality, springs and rivers. Buzzett and new Division Director Tom Beck responded with assurances that the intent was that the Division be able to move decisively to protect such resources. Charles Lee also discussed recent cases in which DCA had successfully challenged plan amendments that would have projected development into the Everglades in Miami-Dade County, and cluttered the Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve with a large marina and housing development. In both cases, Buzzett and Beck indicated that such proposals could in fact be the subject of a challenge by the Division of Community Planning under the new law.
Audubon believes it is important for its chapters and conservation activists around the state to strongly engage and present comments at the remaining Growth Management Implementation Workshops to raise these and other questions. Please click here for more details on the remaining capabilities of the Division of Community Planning to protect Florida’s environment and resources under the new law.
The remaining workshops to be held are:
|June 22, 2011 1:30 pm||POLK CITY (between Orlando and Lakeland)
Fantasy of Flight, Orlampa Conference Center
1400 Broadway Boulevard, South East, Polk City, FL
|June 27, 2011 1:00 pm||GAINESVILLE
Florida Dep. of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Doyle Conner Building
1911 Southwest 34th Street (State Road 121), Gainesville, FL
|June 28, 2011 9:00 am||ST. AUGUSTINE
St. Johns County Convention Center, World Golf Village
500 South Legacy Trail, St. Augustine, FL
|June 30, 2011 1:00 pm||BOCA RATON
6500 Building Auditorium
6500 Congress Avenue, Boca Raton, FL
|July 5, 2011 1:00 pm (CST)||DeFUNIAK SPRINGS
Walton County Courthouse, County Commission Chambers
571 US 90 East, DeFuniak Springs, FL