House poised to vote on changes to gwoth management

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House lawmakers are poised to approve major changes to the state? 25-year-old growth management law that gives cities and counties greater power over land planning decisions, reports the News Service of Florida. Environmentalists fear the bill (HB 7129) will encourage unchecked sprawl and environmental damage. Lawmakers spent 30 minutes debating the bill Wednesday, which will be up for a final House vote on Thursday. House Democrats tried adding amendments that keep current standards requiring counties and cities to only allow developments that can meet needs for schools, roads and parks. But those amendments were rejected along party-line votes. Bill sponsor Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, said the intent of the bill is to give cities and counties more authority over planning decisions. But Democrats said it also limits the ability for citizens to protest changes to local comprehensive plans by lowering the legal standards developers must meet to gain approval. ?ublic participation has always been an important part of (growth management),?Workman said. ?his bill keeps it that way.?He said cities and counties would just inherit that same legal standard the state? land planning agency currently uses.

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