INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A crowd of nearly 200 filled the seats at the Emerson Center in Vero Beach Thursday evening to hear a debate between the creator and the opponent of Amendment 4 – Hometown Democracy.
Both agreed that the amendment’s approval would not affect the State Legislature – other than that, though, they had little in common. (Videos attached at the end.)
Lesley Blackner, a Palm Beach County attorney and co-author of Florida Constitution Amendment 4, faced off with Ryan Houck, the lead opponent of her proposed amendment, during a State Candidates Debate held by the League of Women Voters, and the Harvard, Princeton and Yale Clubs of the Treasure Coast.
Amendment 4, if approved, would provide voters the opportunity to veto comprehensive plan changes their local government approved, Blackner told the audience.
“We deserve the final say,” she said of the local residents who would have to live the plan changes and those effects.
Calling it a “sledgehammer” to kill a fruit fly, Houck said Amendment for is “clear, simple and wrong” because it won’t address the growth management issues its authors expect it to.
He said that the opposition to proposed constitutional amendment is statewide and diverse, including civic groups, environmental groups, tax watch organizations, developers, real estate representative and a host of others.
Houck warned that if voters approved the amendment, it could hold up development and job growth, by forcing would-be businesses to wait until an election – whether regularly scheduled or a special one – for voters to approve.
Blackner admitted that Amendment 4 would be another step to be completed but denied it would prolong the process, considering most comp plan changes take between 12 and 18 months already.
The amendment, in order to pass and be added to the state’s constitution, needs to be approved by 60 percent of the state’s voters. Blackner and the amendment’s supporters collected 1 million petitions across the state to get the question on the ballot.
That ballot question would appear as follows:
Title: Referenda Required For Adoption And Amendment Of Local Government Comprehensive Land Use Plans
Summary: Establishes that before a local government may adopt a new comprehensive land use plan, or amend a comprehensive land use plan, the proposed plan or amendment shall be subject to vote of the electors of the local government by referendum, following preparation by the local planning agency, consideration by the governing body and notice.
Financial Impact Statement: The amendment’s impact on local government expenditures cannot be estimated precisely. Local governments will incur additional costs due to the requirement to conduct referenda in order to adopt comprehensive plans or amendments thereto. The amount of such costs depends upon the frequency, timing and method of the referenda, and includes the costs of ballot preparation, election administration, and associated expenses. The impact on state government expenditures will be insignificant.
VIDEO: Amendment 4 Explained
VIDEO: Author, opponent debate merits of Amendment 4