Sweeping Changes to Florida Growth Management Laws Anticipated

Akerman LLP

The 2010 elections set the stage for sweeping changes to Florida’s growth management framework. The elections resulted in the crushing defeat of Constitutional Amendment 4 (Hometown Democracy), the strengthening of the Republican presence in the Legislature to the extent of a veto-proof majority, and the election of Governor Rick Scott, who has labeled the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) a “jobs killer.” Given the deterioration of relations between DCA and several of its constituent groups (the Legislature, development interests, and local governments) over the past four years, significant changes have been anticipated under the new administration.

Major Changes at DCA

At this point, it is unclear whether the Department of Community Affairs will continue to exist as a separate entity or be merged into another agency, but top level personnel have already been replaced. Former Secretary Tom Pelham, Division Director Charlie Gauthier, and General Counsel Shaw Stiller are gone. New Secretary Billy Buzzett is an attorney, previously with St. Joe Company, who has extensive experience in securing development entitlements. Under his leadership, DCA is re-evaluating cases that have been in non-compliance status and meeting with applicants to discuss settlement agreements. notable change in policy focus has been reduced emphasis on the issue of “demonstrated need,” a major hallmark of compliance decisions under the last administration. Application of the “need” criterion may be further altered by legislation proposed in the current session.

The legislative session, which began March 8, has produced numerous growth management bills, including some sweeping changes to Florida’s regulatory environment.

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Akerman LLP

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