CGR sponsors debate on changes to Florida’s growth management policy

Published: February 8th, 2010

Category: Events, News

A leading expert on growth management will host a discussion on an amendment that could radically change the way Florida regulates growth and development during a Feb. 10 forum at the University of Florida’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service.

Bob Rhodes, a former growth management administrator for the state of Florida, will talk about “Growth Management Policy: The State, The People and the Future,” at 7 p.m. in the Pugh Hall Ocora.

Currently the counsel to the law firm Foley & Lardner LLP, Rhodes chaired the Mayor’s 2006 Growth Management Task Force in Jacksonville and is a past chairman of the Florida Bar Environmental and Land Use Law Section. He also chairs the Northeast Florida Regional Council’s Regional Community Institute.

Rhodes recently described a controversial growth regulation amendment on the 2010 ballot as the “elephant in the growth management policy room.” Amendment 4 would require that all local government Comprehensive Plans and plan amendments be approved by voter referendum before becoming effective, part of a wider direct democracy movement that gives citizens a larger say in land use planning.

In what some described as a bid to “boost growth,” the Florida Legislature rolled back much of the state’s growth management laws in the past session. It was the latest move in debate that has raged for decades over the negative effects of unplanned growth.

Business groups insist continued development is necessary to revive the state’s moribund economy, while environmentalists point to the devastation to the Everglades, rivers and forests, as well as the huge number of empty, foreclosed developments blighting many metropolitan areas.

Amendment 4 would require referendums at the local level for virtually every growth plan. Opponents say it would be costly and unworkable, strapping local leaders with lawsuits, while supporters stress the freedom it gives citizens over unresponsive bureaucracies.

This program is being sponsored with the support of the Center for Governmental Responsibility at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law and Women for Wise Growth, an Alachua-county-based political action committee. CGR Director Jon Mills will introduce the program.

For more information about this event, visit the Graham Center Web site at