In the in 1960s & 70’s runaway development threatened to overtake Florida - destroying wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas. The state responded in 1985, adopting the Growth Management Act overseen by the State Department of Community Affairs. The DCA reviews development permits and makes sure they include measures to reduce and mitigate environmental impacts . It also requires developers to pay for roads and other infrastructure needed to support projects. But State Representative Matt Caldwell of Ft. Myers says this state oversight is no longer necessary.
Caldwell sits on the house committee that wrote HB7129 which basically removes DCA from the planning process. He says the agency was rubberstamping 90 percent of the development requests it received –proving its redundancy. But the bill – which passed out of the republican controlled house on a party line vote – has some strong detractors, including longtime Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah,
Other critics include Andrew McElwaine President and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. The organization was founded by conservationists in 1964. It thwarted planned construction of roads and canals in the Rookery Bay Estuary. The Conservancy’s McElwaine says removing the DCA from the planning process is a step backward.
But every house member from Southwest Florida voted for the measure. State Representative Kathleen Passidomo of Naples says local interests are capable of overseeing local growth.
The bill removing state oversite from growth management has support from the business community. Spokeswoman for the Florida Chamber of Commerce Edie Ausley says streamlining the growth permitting process will help create jobs.
But State Representative Matt Caldwell says the purpose behind the bill was more about eliminating duplicitous paperwork at the DCA than spurring new development.
Caldwell says Whether or not removing state oversight from the growth permitting process will result in a loss of jobs at the DCA is up to another committee to decide. A companion bill to HB7129 is moving through the Senate. Valerie Alker WGCU News.
Friday, 29 April 2011 13:42
DCAWritten by Valerie Alker
Legislation that would significantly change the state’s role in growth management has passed in the Florida House – and a similar measure is making its way through the Senate. The bill has drawn sharp criticism from the environmental community. Pro business interests support it. WGCU’s Valerie Alker reports. Read More...