Critical Amendment to the State Constitution Will Be Debated

Opposing parties to argue the impact on the state’s economy of the Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment on Sept 11th

Tampa, FL, August 19, 2007 --( Parties opposed to the amendment, primarily comprised of business groups and developers argue that if approved, the Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment will threaten the state’s economic growth and property rights. Floridians for Smarter Growth, an anti-Hometown Democracy campaign led by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, is proposing an alternate amendment, “The Florida Growth Management Initiative.”

The Hometown Democracy committee is actively petitioning to get the amendment on the November 2008 ballot. Should the amendment be approved, citizens will be able to directly affect the approval or denial of local growth development plans, decisions that are usually voted on by local government only.

Supporters and detractors have been invited by the Tampa Bay Business Journal to present their respective sides of the issue through a community debate, in order to educate the public on this ongoing battle.

“For more than two decades, the Tampa Bay Business Journal has been known as the go-to source of local business news and market intelligence, so it’s only fitting that we’d be organizing a debate on this hot topic,” stated Alexis Muellner, editor of TBBJ.

Kenneth L. Weiss, J.D., public interest attorney; John Hedrick, chairman of the growth management/sprawl committee of the Florida Sierra Club; and aspiring politician, entrepreneur and land owner Joe Redner, will be the panelists debating in favor of Hometown Democracy.

“It’s time that the voters took back the power to choose how their communities are developed. People are frustrated and disgusted with their elected officials’ attitude of more development is always better. If the city and county commissions had been listening to their constituents about the epidemic of overdevelopment, FHD would not have been necessary,” said Weiss.

Panelists opposing Hometown Democracy include Linda Loomis Shelley, attorney and partner at the Fowler, White, Boggs and Banker law firm, Bob Henriquez, project coordinator for land development services at Atwell Hicks, and Adam Babington, director of coalitions and initiatives of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

“The so-called ‘Hometown Democracy’ amendment, a statewide ‘Vote on Everything’ initiative, would imperil Florida’s prosperity and quality of life. The proposed amendment – requiring that all local comprehensive land use plan changes meet voter approval – subverts a well-established, open, accessible and democratic planning process. With the ‘Vote on Everything’ amendment, citizens, not the representatives they elected, are forced to regularly decide thousands of intricate land-use planning issues,” said Jennifer Krell Davis, J.D., Communications Director for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

“Clearly there’s a need for smart growth,” said Bridgette Mill, TBBJ publisher. “Everyone wants to see us plan in a way that is effective, sustainable and preserves what’s wonderful about living in Florida,” she said. “But there is so much about Hometown Democracy that people don’t know, and this thoughtful debate is likely to go a long way to helping people formulate a decision that’s best for them.”


When: September 11th, 2007, 7:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
Location: Pepin Hospitality Centre
Cost: $49 per person, call 813.873.8225 to register
Tampa Bay Business Journal
Sanaa Belfekih
813 868 1515