On June 2, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed 48 bills into law, including HB 7202, the “Community Planning Act,” a growth management measure that abates state oversight over local land use projects. In addition to placing the regulatory burden on local governments, the law also expedites the review process for state agencies such as the Department of Environmental Protection and diminishes their authority to comment on and object to development proposals. The legislation also eradicates concurrency requirements — provisions that mandate developers to ensure that adequate educational, transportation and recreation facilities are in place prior to project completion.
Conservationists and environmental groups opposing the bill voiced concern that its passage would enable developers to fasttrack proposals through understaffed municipal agencies without the checks and balances afforded by state supervision. These concerns were magnified as a result of Scott’s simultaneous eradication of the state’s Department of Community Affairs, an agency formed in 1969 to prevent overdevelopment.
Supporters of the bill, which included the Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, countered that local governments are better equipped to evaluate the impact of development upon their communities and the elimination of bureaucracy at the state level will lead to the timely completion of more projects, and ultimately, the creation of more jobs.