After months of debate, voters rejected Amendment 4 in the polls yesterday. The addition would have caused a local vote for any and all development projects in counties of Florida. Soaring taxes cost and legal fees were sited by opponents of the amendment. Control of spawling developments was sited as the reason for the change. Read more below.
Voters overwhelmingly rejected Amendment 4, which would have given them final say over many development projects in their communities.
With 72 percent of precincts statewide reporting, 67 percent of ballots counted were opposed and 33 percent were in support of the proposed amendment, which needed 60 percent for approval.
Amendment 4 called for local elections to be held to approve proposed changes in land-use plans. The initiative was put on the ballot by Florida Hometown Democracy, a group founded by lawyers Lesley Blackner of Palm Beachand Ross Burnaman of Tallahassee, both veterans of battles to protect Florida’s environment.
Their proposal, which began to take shape seven years ago, appeared earlier this year to be an easy sell for voters sick of sprawling development.
But opponents to Amendment 4 fought back, claiming it would hurt an already ailing economy and cause breakdowns in local governments.
Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy, the committee leading the opposition to Amendment 4, financed an aggressive advertising campaign by raising $12.1 million as of late last week, or four times more than the $2.8 million collected by Florida Hometown Democracy.
“Floridians saw through the rhetoric and recognized Amendment 4 for what it was — a dangerous, costly and job-killing anti-growth measure,” said Ryan Houck, the group’s executive director. “They want Florida’s leaders to get Florida’s economy back on track.”
Blackner said voters were “subjected to the full financial power of those special interests that are committed to maintaining a death grip on their ability to control the status quo of sprawl.”
She said Florida Hometown Democracy will disband and that it’s up to “our state’s elected leaders and residents to find an answer to Florida’s addiction to promiscuous construction before it is too late.”
Leading all contributors to Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy was the Florida Association of Realtors, which chipped in $4.3 million. Also making large contributions were homebuilders and agricultural interests.
Among Florida Hometown Democracy’s biggest backers were Blackner and Christopher Findlater, a South Florida resident also has been a heavy contributor to sponsors of Amendments 5 and 6, which called for legislative districts to be drawn in compact districts.
Scott Powers of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Kevin Spear can be reached at [email protected] or 407-420-5062.
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