Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hometown Democracy Amendment ...

I was in Florida for a few (too few) days and ran across this unique project which I thought might be of some interest to you.

We know that people care about the place where they live and trust the people to make decisions that will protect their community's future. The Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment seeks to take this faith in the people and make the current land use system more accountable by giving the power over certain land use changes (comprehensive plan amendments) to the voters.Property owners in Florida have the right to use their property in accord with the comprehensive plan designation. For example, if a property is designated agricultural, the property owner has the right to use it for any and all agricultural purposes. Agricultural land owners do not have the right to use their land for high-density residential and commercial purposes.Citizens in a community have rights, too. We have the right to demand that our "quality of life" not be harmed by endless construction.Comprehensive plan amendments, which typically allow for more density or intensity of development on a particular parcel of land, are political decisions. These changes should not be granted unless our elected commissioners make a determination that the community's well-being will not be harmed. Our elected officials take an oath to protect the public interest. But too many county and city commissioners just can not say no to comprehensive plan amendments that are destructive to a community's well being.The Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment will mandate referenda for comprehensive plan amendments approved by city and county commissions. Because these plan changes are just about the most important decisions that local governments make, the voters should have the final word about decisions that can make or break their community's future.

More here.

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