FL Growth Legislation Hinges on "What Is Urban?"

A controversial bill on the desk of FL Gov. Crist is touted by supporters as 'smart growth' because they feel it will direct growth to urban areas, which are defined as 1,000 people per sq. mile. At stake is transportation mitigation of new projects.
May 22, 2009, 1pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"Gov. Charlie Crist now has a bill on his desk, which he said (May 20) he "probably will" sign, that would ease government oversight and exempt many areas from a requirement that says builders must pay for road improvements if traffic generated by their projects exceeds the local capacity.

Representative Dorothy L. Hukill said the law would increase local control, eliminate duplicative reviews and encourage builders to add construction in downtowns rather than rural areas, where the roads are emptier.

Ms. Hukill said the state's most pastoral areas would benefit. "It's doing what we said we wanted," she said. "We wanted growth management to encourage development more in the urban core."

"It's going to be a disaster," said Frank Jackalone, Florida staff director for the Sierra Club. "It's not about filling homes. It's about building new homes."

Anti-sprawl and environment group "opposition focuses mainly on one formula: 1,000 people per square mile. This is the bill's definition of urban."

"No planner is going to call 1,000 people per square mile ‘urban,' " said Charles Pattison, president of 1,000 Friends of Florida, an anti-sprawl group.

Merle Bishop, president-elect of the Florida Chapter of the American Association of Planners, which opposes the bill, agreed, saying, "It's what would be required to support public transit, which is one of the objectives of trying to achieve smart growth."

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Published on Thursday, May 21, 2009 in The New York Times - U.S.
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