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BIG GUNS OPPOSE GROWTH BILL

Former Sen. Bob Graham and longtime environmental activist Nathaniel "Nat" Reed, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, joined forces Wednesday to call on Gov. Rick Scott to veto a bill that would reverse more than 30 years of growth management regulation.

Reed, who held positions with Gov. Claude Kirk and Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford before launching 1,000 Friends of Florida, called the Legislature's passage of HB 7207 "a bitter pill" and predicted it will lead to taxpayers being stuck with paying for new roads, water lines, sewers and other facilities that developers should pay for instead. He also said it would lead to widespread corruption among local government officials, adding, "Get the prisons ready."

Graham contended the bill, which all but repeals the 1985 Growth Management Act - which he signed as governor - would do nothing to boost the slumping economy because there are so many vacant houses left over from the real estate bubble.

Instead of signing the bill, Graham and Reed said, Scott should set up a commission of "developers, local governments, business, citizen and conservation interests" to work out ways to improve the state's growth management process. Scott's office did not respond to a request for comments. Graham and Reed both hail from families who made millions developing South Florida communities - Miami Lakes for Graham, Jupiter Island for Reed - but both have backed state oversight of local government growth plans, which the bill would repeal.

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