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Floridians to vote on urban development veto

In November 2010 Floridians will vote on an amendment to allow affected citizens to vote on proposals for urban development. Such a constitional amendment is desperately needed in Australia, particularly in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, where Governments in the pockets of developers habitually over-ride the objections of local governments and local communities to new urban developments.

The following letter Michael P. Aston, was published on 9 Jan 10 on the web site of Florida Hometown Democracy.

Amendment 4 hot issue for November

In his January, 2010 article Tom Patton said if Hometown Democracy Amendment 4, passed it would bog down the system and thousands of business decisions would be subject to a vote.

He praised politician’s ability to correctly handle comprehensive plan changes but not questioned his own and all citizen’s ability to make knowledgeable decisions on such matters.

That thinking is apparent in all those opposing Amendment 4. They consistently rant about the need to have thousands of changes made to our comprehensive land use plans and about citizen inabilities.

But why do we need thousands of changes to our plans if they are already state-mandated and created by local officials with input from the citizens, then fully reviewed and approved by all parties?

Why would citizens not have the interest, time, or mental capacity to review and decide on a developer’s comp plan change request that could negatively affect their lives or increase their taxes for infrastructure and services?

If citizens lack these abilities is it a foregone conclusion that our local officials possess them and will rightly apply them, without yielding to pressure from lobbyists or special interests? Florida’s history of development doesn’t support that conclusion.

Mr. Patton implies all growth would stop if Amendment 4 passed. But, according to Florida Hometown Democracy, "Current land-use plans already allow development for over 100 million people in Florida which is more than 5 times the current State population ….even if not one more land-use plan change is approved".
He also predicted the inevitable "politicians are in the pockets of developers" cry. He is sadly correct because of powerful lobbyist firms like Associated Industries of Florida.

They have tremendous sums of money behind them, employ previous political office holders and try to influence our legislator’s vote in an effort to secure the best interests of their clients. Senator John Thrasher worked there prior to reentering politics.

Amendment 4 will be a hot issue for November. It will trigger a massive, expensive campaign by developers, realtors, and everyone dependent upon them to defeat it for their own self interest. The smoke-and- mirrors effort to deceive people has already begun, and their voices will get louder as we approach the vote.

Citizens need truth to make an intelligent decision about this issue. They’ll find it at

Michael P. Aston, Neptune Beach, FL

See also: Florida Hometown Democracy's Amendment 4: A battle for the remains of Florida. of 12 Dec 09 in Floridians for a Sustainable Population.

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