If you vote 'yes,' you'll turn purple and get fat | Oct. 3, Howard Troxler column
Amendment 4 is like using an Uzi to kill a fly
Our growth management process can be improved, but using Amendment 4 to fix it is like using an Uzi to kill a fly. To borrow his own words, it is columnist Howard Troxler and supporters of Amendment 4 who "so ridiculously overstate it that they hurt their own cause."
As an attorney who represents developers, but who also spent six years representing the city of Tampa, I can tell you firsthand this amendment would have a more devastating impact on our local cities and counties than it would on developers.
Troxler is simply wrong in saying Amendment 4 will apply only to decisions about where growth occurs or how a community should look. In a 2005 opinion, the Florida Supreme Court said that Amendment 4 would require voters to weigh in on all components of a local comprehensive plan, including but not limited to: capital improvements, traffic circulation, sanitary sewer, solid waste, drainage, potable water and natural groundwater aquifer recharge, conservation, recreation and open space.
Putting every amendment to every comprehensive plan to voters will tie the hands of local governments, clutter the ballots and significantly increase the costs of elections.
It is wrong to assume that Amendment 4 will improve growth management of new development. Is it right to give the voters in Lutz final say over a south Hillsborough plan, or vice versa? Couldn't voters in one part of a city rally to approve a controversial project on the other side of town just to make sure it doesn't land in their own backyard?
And voters should remember that not every amendment to the land use plan is about development. Cities and counties regularly update their plans to improve them, adding community plans prepared by neighborhoods or requirements for bike trails and parks, and other measures protective of our communities.
Government planners are uniquely qualified to revise the language of the plan. How is it in the interest of smart growth to delay such changes and put them to a possible veto by the electorate?
Andrea Zelman, Tampa
Truth about Amendment 4
Florida's voters deserve to hear the truth in order to make an informed decision about Amendment 4. That's why all Floridians need to know that the bulk of the expense and focus of the St. Pete Beach litigation is a lawsuit by a single resident who thought the city's 75-word ballot summary of a 150-page comprehensive plan change was deceptive. The same sorts of lawsuits will threaten all Florida cities if Amendment 4 passes because all cities will also have to summarize their 200-page comp plans in 75-word ballot summaries.
A recent letter writer is wrong in claiming that in St. Pete Beach, most of the litigation resulted from "actions by developers … aimed at bypassing state growth management laws." The crux of the litigation was about ballot language.
The real question isn't whether Amendment 4 will result in costly lawsuits (it clearly will), but whether the alleged benefits of Amendment 4 are worth the heavy cost of the lawsuits it will spawn.
Kevin Hing, St. Pete Beach