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Voter rejection of Amendment 4 hailed

By Staff | Nov 3, 2010

Voter rejection of an amendment that would have required all major land use changes to be decided at the polls has the local business community breathing a sigh of relief.
Locally, the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association vehemently opposed the amendment, fearing that, if adopted, the Cape’s recovery efforts would remain in limbo and recovery statewide would be hindered.
CCCIA Executive Director Heather Mazurkiewicz said Wednesday they had encouraged all of their members to vote against Amendment 4, dubbed “Hometown Democracy” by those who supported the ballot initiative.
“I am very pleased voters of Lee and the entire state realized what a detrimental amendment that would have been,” Mazurkiewicz said. “The job loss we would have incurred would have been far too great.”
Statewide, 3,381,513 voters, representing 67.09 percent of all votes, rejected the amendment, while 1,658,751 voters supported it.
Constitutional amendments require 60 percent approval to pass.
In Lee County, 112,364 people voted to reject the amendment, while 58,476 supported adoption.
The so-called “Hometown Democracy” amendment polarized the state during election season and became one of, if not the most, highly debated amendment item on the ballot.
Proponents said Amendment 4 would have put the power to decide land use changes into the hands of voters, had it been approved.
Proponents also said that power was long overdue, and that Florida’s problems with urban sprawl and environmental challenges would not have occurred if a similar system had been in place years ago.
Opponents of the amendment said the state would never recover from its current economic malaise because development could be halted indefinitely, as voters struggled to educate themselves on the reality of the land use changes before them.
Opponents also said future ballots would be clogged, literally, with hundreds of land use changes, and new jobs, development and tax revenue streams would forever be stalled.
Local activist, natural resource watch dog, and Sierra Club member Carl Veaux said Wednesday that the death of Amendment 4 could also spell the demise of one Florida’s most treasured assets.
Veaux thinks the Florida panther will suffer the most with the rejection of the amendment.
“I think its the death knell of the Florida panther,” Veaux said. “Developers will have free rein to buy politicians by supporting their campaigns … we won’t be able to keep developments out of their habitat.”
Veaux also doubts that voters will again decide the amendment in 2012.
“I hope it will come back, but I don’t think it will,” Veaux added.
Voters also decided:
Amendment 1, which proposed the repeal of the provision in the State Constitution that requires public financing of campaigns of candidates for elective statewide office who agree to campaign spending limits. It was not approved because it failed to garner 60 percent of the vote.
Amendment 2, an amendment to the State Constitution to require the Legislature to provide an additional homestead property tax exemption by law for members of the United States military or military reserves, the United States Coast Guard or its reserves, or the Florida National Guard who receive a homestead exemption and were deployed in the previous year on active duty outside the continental United States, Alaska, or Hawaii in support of military operations designated by the Legislature. It was approved by voters as 77.8 percent of voters said Yes.
Amendment 5, an amendment to set standards for legislative districts or districting plans which may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party was approved by voters as 62.54 percent of Floridians voted yes.
Amendment 6, which would set the standard for the legislature to follow in congressional redistricting was approved by voters with 62.88 percent of Floridians voting yes.