Florida's voters overwhelmingly voted against a state constitutional amendment Tuesday that would have required every land plan or change to be approved by local voters.
Changing the state's constitution would have required 60% of voters to vote "yes" on the measure. Instead, roughly 67% voted against the change.
"I guess the people have looked at it and spoken," said Douglas Buck, director of government affairs for the Florida Home Builders Association, which worked for several years to defeat the proposed constitutional change. "This wasn't even close. This wasn't, 'Oh, if we had had made this little extra effort'," it would have passed."
Opponents to the measure asserted that, if passed, Amendment 4 said would negatively slow--if not stop--growth in the state. They argued that the amendment, if passed, would have causing corporations to look elsewhere to locate and ensure that only the wealthiest of land developers would be able to afford the process of getting development plans approved. "This isn't just about houses in subdivisions," Buck said. "This is about business."
The amendment's opponents, which included the Florida HBA, were able to galvanize voters along with local government officials, unions, local chambers of commerce, "and all kinds of people," Buck said. "I think it was as broad a grassroots organization as you could find. There were some very unusual bedfellows."
All the state's newspapers editorialized against the amendment as well.
Those pushing the legislation, led by Florida Hometown Democracy, a political action committee, appealed to those who wanted to ability to stop development in their communities.
With Amendment 4 defeated, Lesley Blackner, president of Florida Hometown Democracy, issued a statement Tuesday saying that the Florida Hometown Democracy movement was ending. "We are obviously disappointed in the apparent outcome of the referendum on Amendment 4. But we are extremely grateful for the countless thousands of volunteers and grassroots activists who stepped forward over the past seven years to fight the monumental battle just to get this issue on the ballot," said Blackner's statement on the group's website.
She said it was difficult for her group to compete with expensive television advertisements paid for by "special interests that are committed to maintaining a death grip on their ability to control the status quo of sprawl and overbuilding in our state. We nonetheless respect the voters' judgment at the ballot box."
"It is left to our state's elected leaders and residents to find an answer to Florida's addiction to promiscuous construction before it is too late for our state's natural resources and quality of life," her statement continued.
Teresa Burney is a senior editor for BUILDER and BIG BUILDER magazines.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL.