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Growth bill headed to House floor with opposition from cities, counties

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A controversial House growth management bill passed its final committee stop on the way to the House floor on Tuesday.

HB 933, which originally combined seven separate House growth management bills, includes provisions eliminating the “development of regional impact” review process for larger developments and requiring a property rights element in local government comprehensive land-use plans.

The bill was amended Tuesday to remove a section that would extend a loan program from clean energy and wind resistance to ground subsidence and repair. The Florida Bankers Association had opposed that section of the bill.

But the Florida Association of Counties, the Florida League of Cities and 1000 Friends of Florida continued to oppose HB 933.

Those groups said that the requirement for the property rights element places a burden on staff of cities and counties. And they say the development of regional impact process, called DRI, provides for a state and regional process to address transportation and other issues affected by large developments.

“I just given all that’s happened with the DRI process without anything taking its place, I think we ought to just kind of maybe take a time out and evaluate that and see if that’s worth going forward,” said Eric Poole, representing the Florida Association of Counties.

But the bill still has support from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Florida Community Developers and the James Madison Institute Center for Property Rights.

Gary K. Hunter, representing the chamber and developers groups, said an extensive review process would remain in place even after the bill passes.

He said about half the state’s population was exempted from DRI review by the Legislature in 2009. Eight counties and more than half the state’s 411 cities were exempted.

State Rep. Mike La Rosa, a Republican from St. Cloud who is bill sponsor, said he is happy to continue having discussions with legislators about bill changes. The bill passed the House Economic Affairs Committee.

“Smart growth is very important to the future of our state,” he said. “I believe there are regulations we have stacked on top of each other that ultimately need to be looked at and stricken down.”

Last week, the bill passed the House Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee after La Rosa offered an amendment to remove language requiring development approval of “constrained” agricultural parcels.

Palm Beach County officials said the amendment would usurp local authority over two developments there and could require approval for other parcels in the future. Elements of HB 933 are found in at least five Senate bills that have passed committees.

Bruce Ritchie (@bruceritchie) covers environment, energy and growth management in Tallahassee.

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