A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Come

by Bernard McCormick Tuesday, June 01, 2010 4 Comment(s)

Amendment 4 is the idea of letting the people take over. Take over when governments ignore the wishes of neighborhoods when they approve developments that are good for the pocketbooks of developers, and maybe their own as well, but are destruction for the people who have to live there after the developer takes their money and runs.


The amendment would give voters the final approval after other options have expired – meaning zoning boards and city and county commissions have ignored the wishes of the people and approved controversial projects. The amendment is being opposed by business interests throughout the state, with good reason. It threatens to kill jobs, clog up the courts with development disputes and cost money for special elections and ballot items.


The worst fear is that everything anybody wants to build that somebody somewhere, anywhere, doesn’t like will wind up in the voting booth. It is a serious concern and thoughtful observers have already begun warning of the unintended consequences.


As we thoughtful observers ponder the options, it is well to note why this amendment came about in the first place. And there is a perfect example in Fort Lauderdale’s First Presbyterian Church trying to get approval for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) to get around existing zoning laws. The church wants to build a massive retail and parking garage right on Las Olas Boulevard, and a very large family center a short block away. Residents suspect a school in disguise. The church says no. But the family center will have classrooms, a cafeteria and a gym. If it isn’t a school, why are they building one?


The neighbors in Fort Lauderdale’s historic Colee Hammock section are bitterly opposed. It is a classic power structure – influence and money on both sides. We dubbed it “The Civil War on Las Olas.” Buddy Nevins, in his blog Broward Beat, was stronger. He called it “criminal” to destroy this unique neighborhood. To those who live there, it is a village within an urban area, a place with popular hangouts such as The Floridian, small shops, restaurants, a barber, a mini post office. It is the sort of place most cities are trying to create, convenience combined with relatively quiet lifestyle.


“Criminal” is a pretty strong word, but some of the stuff that has gone on behind the scenes – pressuring Planning and Zoning Board members, for instance – is close to the line.


At this writing it is obvious the politicians want the problem to go away. They ask for compromise, not wanting to suffer the consequences of a vote. In the case of Romney Rogers, the recently elected city commissioner for the area, his short public career is over if he betrays his campaign promise to protect neighborhoods against this sort of exploitation.


If he and his fellow commissioners approve this PUD, well, folks, this is being called the poster child for Amendment 4. It just may be a bad idea whose time has come.


Let's not let one local project get in the way...

This Comment had been Posted by mmccormick

Let's not let one local project get in the way of making a much larger mistake for the State. Ammendment 4 would offer some positive outcomes for situations like the one you are citing on Las Olas; however, the unintended consrquences you reference in the article would suffocate our State.

We are in 100% agreement with your views on this m...

This Comment had been Posted by mmccormick

We are in 100% agreement with your views on this matter and I personally feel that 'crimenal' is the operative word here. Although we live Coral Ridge and not in Colee Hammock it is one of our favorite places to walk, dine, and just enjoy life on a quiet scale. Colee Hammock and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea are just about the only locations left that remind Lauderdale residents of the small town this city once was.
We have been away for several months but there is also another matter that to my knowledge no one has mentioned and that is that the church is tax exempt and will not be paying taxes on this project if they are given a go-ahead in this matter. Therefore you have not only the ruination of one of the few perfect neighborhoods left in the city but the fact that the church will be enjoying huge profits with the added benefit of not being taxed. Is this fair? I hardly think so!

I can understand that the people in this neighborh...

This Comment had been Posted by mmccormick

I can understand that the people in this neighborhood may like to have a stronger say in what happens close to their homes. This situation is exactly why you should be opposed to Amendment 4. The neighbors have a much stronger voice than if this were to go to a City wide vote or County wide vote as proposed under Amendment 4. While the neighbors can negotiate changes or even the defeat of this change it is unlikely that if the entire county voted that it would be defeated. All the churches in the county would tell their folks to vote for the change so that they could rely on all the other churches to help them. Under Amendment 4,people in Parkland or Hallandale could be voting on a church in a neighborhood in Ft. Lauderdale. Amendment 4 would be a disaster for local neighborhoods.No on Amendment 4.

Please vote NO on Amendment 4. If passed, Amendmen...

This Comment had been Posted by mmccormick

Please vote NO on Amendment 4. If passed, Amendment 4 would require taxpayer-funded referenda for any change to a local government’s comprehensive plan. This “Vote on Everything” measure would force voters to decide hundreds of minor, technical plan revisions on a single ballot. Ultimately, Amendment 4 will mean longer delays, higher costs, and more burdensome litigation for small businesses. Why would anyone want to have a business here? We all know that voters go to the polls armed with no information and cast random votes on issues they know nothing about. People outside of your neighborhood will be voting on issues that only you care about. Can you imagine a ballot with page-after-page-after-page of zoning requests?? "Amendment 4 is a reckless, short-sighted proposal which would undermine efforts to diversify Florida's economy by creating unpredictable and chaotic business conditions. And while Amendment 4 is a bad idea in any economy, the current recession would make it nothing short of catastrophic." Please VOTE NO on Amendment 4.

Add new comment