My View: Amendment 4 would protect our citizens

 

My View: Amendment 4 would protect our citizens

 

Date: October 13, 2010
by: Bradford Saivetz | Guest columnist

 
 

I was not surprised with your recent Our View against Amendment 4 on this year’s ballot. You fit neatly within the characteristics of the other Amendment 4 opponents you listed. Business-oriented, that is.

I disagree with your evaluation.

The comprehensive plan, by definition, serves as a constitution for a community. It spells out what one can expect to be able to do within its boundaries. It should not be something to be taken casually. The framers of this legislation were aware that changes would inexorably be required — and provided a method for amending it.

This amendment process currently provides for input by the citizenry and is subject to a petition for administrative appeal by affected landowners. But town officials are empowered to make definitive decisions on the matter. Absent amendments thereto, the comprehensive plan calls for a review every seven years.

Amendment 4, however, would provide for the citizenry to vote on definitive amendments.

Your suggestion that the elected officials continue to be empowered to make definitive changes to our comprehensive plan makes as much wisdom as suggesting that our Congress be empowered to make amendments to our U.S. Constitution. What a mess this would be — and so incongruous to our form of government.

You bemoan your imagined premise that developers would be driven away from our Sunshine State were this amendment to be adopted. No offense, but that is patently ridiculous.

In the event that a developer wanted to process a plan, now or in the future, all he would have to do is to conform to our presently constituted comprehensive plan. The only time this would be a threat to a developer is when he would want to change the conditions clearly detailed in the comprehensive plan.

Adopted by the 1985 Legislature, Florida’s Growth Management Act requires all 67 counties and 410 municipalities to adopt comprehensive plans that guide future growth and development. As presently constituted, unfortunately, it has allowed the unbridled growth of housing and commerce that has led us into the current malaise that is gripping our state.

I look at your listing of whom you categorize as anti-growth and pro-growth supporters. I consider myself neither, but I am a voter. I have always told my progeny: “Look around you. If the people around you don’t look like you — or act like you — then either you, or they, are in the wrong place.” On that premise, I am neither business-backed or a Realtor or a home builder or a member of the chamber of commerce. So, by default, I am for Amendment 4.

Please refrain from the “punitive costs” of Amendment 4. Be assured, the costs of attorneys and lawsuits under the present conditions outweigh the imagined costs of giving the citizenry a say in what our town is — and will be.

At the risk of redundancy — as long as a developer or investor is willing to abide by our comprehensive plan, no amendments are, or will be, required. However, if a developer wants to change the comprehensive plan, then he must petition for an amendment. It should require a vote of the entire citizenry.

Your reliance on the opinions of Lawrence Reed in his article, “The Golden Calf of Democracy,” is really a low blow. If you are also defending the abolition of democracy as a reason for your position on this matter, I take offense. Be assured, we are not a pure democracy, we are a constitutional democracy. The rights of the minority are protected by the very essence of our Constitution.

I take umbrage with your explanation and rationalization that “every Florida citizen is already empowered to have his say on comp-plan changes.” I hope you will agree that being able to confine oneself to three minutes as “public to be heard” is not the same as being able to actually vote on a subject.

Vote “yes” on Amendment 4.

Bradford Saivetz lives on Longboat Key and is member of the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board.

 

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