Yankeetown settles… for now
by Brian Seymour on November 18, 2011
Earlier this year, the Town of Yankeetown, Florida sued to overturn HB 7207, which created the Community Planning Act. This was the single largest piece of growth management legislation in decades. Yankeetown did not approve and sued to have it overturned on several grounds, including the prohibition on referenda for comprehensive plan changes. Yankeetown’s Charter provided for referenda for approval of any comprehensive plan changes.
Prior to any real movement in the case, Yankeetown and the state have come to a tentative settlement. On November 9, 2011, while the state’s Motion to Dismiss was pending, the parties filed a Joint Motion for Abeyance. They informed the court of a proposed settlement, subject to approval by the Legislature and Governor. The proposal would amend the Community Planning Act so the ban on referenda would not apply to local governments that had a charter provision authorizing such referenda as of June 2, 2011. The amendment is already in the works.
Senator Mike Bennett, one of the principal authors of Community Planning Act, has filed a bill in the Senate (SB 842) related to Growth Management. Included in SB 842 is an amendment to Section 163.3167, Florida Statutes that reads:
“[A]ny local government charter provision that was in effect as of June 1, 2011, for an initiate or referendum process in regard to development orders or in regard to local comprehensive plan amendments or map amendments, may be retained and implemented.”
This is a very limited exception. Not only is the date limiting, the referendum process must have been in the charter – not just passed by ordinance in a code.
This is a good resolution to Yankeetown’s concerns. It allows a good law to move forward and allows the citizens of Yankeetown to continue the process they previously decided was important enough to put in their charter. Hopefully, the settlement will come to fruition with the passage of SB 842 and signature by Governor Scott.