On August 1, Yankeetown asked a Leon County circuit court judge to declare HB 7207 unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed against the Department of Community Affairs, DCA Secretary Billy Buzzett and the Florida Cabinet, sitting as the Administration Commission.
HB 7207, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott on June 2, substantially reduced the state’s oversight in growth management and modified the state standards for determining whether a project constitutes urban sprawl. It limited state involvement in local growth decisions to “important state resources and facilities,” without defining what those were. HB 7207 passed the Legislature with support from the Florida League of Cities and the Florida Association of Counties.
Yankeetown argues that the bill’s title obscures its true intent, and that the undefined “important state resources and facilities” is too vague a standard. Yankeetown’s charter requires referenda on comprehensive plan changes, but the prior statutory prohibition on referenda affecting a small number of parcels was broadened by HB 7207 to prohibit all planning referenda. The town has challenged approval of a limerock mine within the evacuation zone for the Crystal River nuclear power plant. Yankeetown is on the Withlacoochee River, an “outstanding Florida waterway” under Florida law, in Levy County; it argues that it cannot know whether that qualifies it for protection as “important” under HB 7207 because the term is undefined.
Author(s): Susan L. Trevarthen