Constitutional amendment on planning makes 2010 ballot

TALLAHASSEE — A proposed Florida constitutional amendment that would give voters a say on how their communities grow, including such decisions as where shopping centers, homes and roads are built, will be on the 2010 ballot.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning on Monday declared that Florida Hometown Democracy had collected the required number of signatures.

He designated it Amendment 4.

That culminated a four-year petition drive, which began after the Florida Supreme Court blocked an earlier version in 2005.

The justices, though, cleared the way for getting on the 2010 ballot by striking down a law that would have let voters revoke their signatures on citizen initiative petitions.

“It’s been a lot of sweat and tears,” said Palm Beach lawyer Lesley Blackner, who co-founded Hometown Democracy with Tallahassee attorney Ross Burnaman.

“It’s been a crusade to get to this point.”

If the proposal gets 60 percent approval at the polls, Hometown Democracy would require local referendums on changes to city and county comprehensive plans.

Business and development interests that opposed the petition drive will shift their focus to defeating the amendment at the polls.

They say Hometown Democracy would slow growth and be a drag on Florida’s already sagging economy.

Opponents also have included local government officials and the environmental group 1000 Friends of Florida, although it is planning to reconsider its position.

“The ‘Vote on Everything’ amendment could mean a permanent recession for Florida’s economy,” said Florida Chamber of Commerce president Mark Wilson.

“This amendment will hopelessly complicate the planning process.”