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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Powerful interests checkmated Florida's growth management agency

In its 35 years, the state Department of Community Affairs has irritated some of Florida's most powerful people, including developers, lawyers, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Farm Bureau and a coalition of the state's biggest landowners.

Yet since its inception in 1986, state officials have mostly regarded the DCA as an essential safeguard against the runaway growth that damaged the state in the 1960s and '70s — the traffic cop pulling over reckless drivers on the highway to Florida's future.

Not anymore, though. Unless Gov. Rick Scott intervenes — which seems unlikely — the budget that the Legislature approved this month abolishes the DCA.

No more would it oversee and sometimes intervene in the efforts of Florida's 67 counties and 410 municipalities to prepare plans for development. Instead, its remnants would be swallowed up by a new agency that promotes growth, the Department of Economic Opportunity. What's left of the DCA would exist as the Division of Community Development, where its duties would mostly be limited to "local government planning assistance."

In other words, no more traffic cop. Instead, the division would be more like the people who hand out maps to travelers.

Read more here.

[Last modified: Monday, May 23, 2011 9:22am]


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