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Lee County opposes proposed bills in Florida House

By Staff | May 13, 2009

Lee County commissioners have positioned themselves as opponents to two Florida House bills related to transportation and development financing. The bills, HB 227 and SB 360, are now being voted on in the House.
HB 227 is particularly troubling to commissioners and county staff. The bill calls for a change in the burden of proving an impact fee’s purpose. The legislation puts the burden of proof on the fee’s challenger, changing the test to “preponderance of evidence.”
SB 360 is more complex, containing 35 sections. The bill has three major components — two deal with changing regional and MPO assessments for transportation concurrencies, and the third terminates regional assessments for developments in dense urban areas of 1,000 people per square mile.
Lee County Smart Growth Director Wayne Daltry said the development aspects of SB 360 are attractive to help limit and control growth in unincorporated parts of the county.
But he feels the transportation portions of the bill, along with the impact fee change in HB227, will effectively take the power out of the hands of local governments and put it in the hands of developers.
Daltry said the county needs to move quickly to try and keep the bills from passing.
“The reason we’re moving fast is because it directly affects our management system,” he said. “And a lot of these bills move fast through the House.”
Lee County joins Hillsborough County as the only two in Florida to openly oppose the bills.
Both bills found contempt from the Lee County Commission, with Chairman Ray Judah going as far as calling them abhorrent.
“This is such a blatant attempt to eviscerate growth management,” he said.
Commissioners unanimously decided to sign a letter to Gov. Charlie Crist asking him to veto both bills.
Crist has until July 1 to approve or veto the bills.