Speak out against this pro-‘sprawl’ bill that’s gotten worse

You’ve heard the term “from bad to worse?” This is the story of one proposal in the Florida Legislature that’s gone from outrageous — to offensive.

House Bill 359 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 540, titled “Local Government Comprehensive Plans,” would disempower citizens by forcing those who challenge local government comprehensive plans or comp plan amendments and lose to pay the other side’s court costs.

This is likely to intimidate concerned citizens and discourage any challenge, even one on solid legal grounds. Which, of course, is exactly what the sprawl industry backing these bills wants.

This initial effort to punish citizens who speak out is outrageous enough; but then things got downright offensive.

Both bills were amended to effectively greenlight a controversial Miami-Dade County proposal to build a warehouse complex on hundreds of acres of land needed for Everglades restoration. 

That proposal, the South Dade Logistics and Technology District, missed a 180-day deadline for local approval and it looked like the developers would have to go back to square one and start over.

But not to worry: HB 359/SB 540 were amended to include language asserting that if a comprehensive plan amendment is not formally adopted at its second public hearing, it’s deemed adopted 180 days later unless it’s withdrawn by the developer.

And just like that, what we’ve termed the “Session of Sprawl” just got supercharged.

These bills are nearing the finish line, with SB 540 needing just one more committee stop, possibly next week in the Senate Rules Committee.

If you’re tired of the rigged game where developers get all the breaks and conservation-minded citizens are told to shut up and sit down, now’s your chance to do something about it.

Tell Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, and Senate Rule Committee Chair Debbie Mayfield, that you believe HB 359/SB 540 will lead to more sprawl and more sprawl-related problems, like impaired water quality. And tell them Florida shouldn’t be in the business of trying to intimidate citizens who file well-meaning challenges to comprehensive plans and plan amendments.

Contact Sen. Kathleen Passidomo:
Capitol phone: (850) 487-5028
District phone: (239) 417-6205
Email: mailto:passidomo.kathleen.web@flsenate.gov

Contact Sen. Debbie Mayfield:
Capitol phone: (850) 487-5019
District phone: (321) 409-2025
Email: mailto:mayfield.debbie.web@flsenate.gov

Be nice, be polite, but be unequivocal: Cleaner water requires fair, sound comprehensive planning; and engaged citizens are a key component.

And haphazard or reckless growth endangers our natural resources — and costs taxpayers more in the long run.