Florida Legislature Passes Bush’s Growth Bill

Mon June 06, 2005 - Southeast Edition

The Florida Legislature has passed Gov. Jeb Bush’s proposal to overhaul the state’s growth management laws for the first time in two decades.

Passing both chambers of the Legislature with overwhelming support, the “pay-as-you-grow” growth management law will ensure roads, schools and water are available to meet the needs of growing communities.

“This legislation ensures communities are providing the critical infrastructure —roads, schools and water — for new growth,” said Department of Community Affairs Secretary Thaddeus Cohen. “Now, as a community plans for growth, it must also plan for the funding needed to provide necessary infrastructure for that growth.”

This year, Bush marked growth management reform as a top priority, proposing “hard-edge” development requirements and new funds to pay for new growth. The legislation, SB 360, addresses the road, water and school needs of Florida’s growing communities:

• Roads — The reforms close the gap between new development and the construction of needed transportation by requiring roads to be in place or under construction within three years of a local government’s approval of a building permit that would result in additional traffic.

• Schools — Local governments and school boards will jointly plan for schools, requiring that educational facilities are available or under construction within three years from development approval. Reform closes the gap between when new development begins and needed school facilities are built.

• Water — The growth management legislation creates a stronger link between local water supply planning and regional plans prepared by Florida’s five water management districts. In addition, an adequate water supply must be available before residents move into new developments.

“Increasing capacity on our roads will keep the traffic — and our economy — moving. Reducing congestion means a better quality of life for Florida’s families,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jose Abreu. “We will now work with local governments and Metropolitan Planning Organizations to develop priority projects that will make this reform a reality for our citizens, visitors and businesses.”

Florida’s strong economy has generated funds to help address the infrastructure backlog and future transportation needs of the state.

The bill provides $1.5 billion next year for infrastructure funding for transportation, water and schools, with recurring funding of $750 million annually thereafter.

“For the first time ever, Florida’s communities will have to identify the water supply for new growth,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Colleen M. Castille. “Our common-sense approach protects our sensitive environment, while ensuring safe, reliable, adequate supplies of water to grow our economy and sustain our quality of life.”

“Under the leadership of Gov. Bush, the state of education in Florida is now stronger than ever, and this legislation takes action to preserve and capitalize on our successes in the classroom,” Cohen said. “This new framework will enable communities to sustain thoughtful growth while realizing their economic and development goals.”

With more than 1,000 new residents moving to Florida daily, the state’s population is projected to grow by 5 million over the next 17 years. The ’pay-as-you-grow’ system bases decisions about new development on the ability of Florida’s communities to provide adequate infrastructure. Under the plan, comprehensive plans now require a budget and timeline to address the backlog of infrastructure as well as the increased demands of new development. Additionally, the bill discourages the proliferation of urban sprawl by providing regulatory incentives to develop within urban service boundaries and urban infill and redevelopment areas.