THE BEST LAID PLANS: THE RISE AND FALL OF GROWTH MANAGEMENT IN FLORIDA

Mary Dawson

This article begins by giving a short history of growth management nationwide, beginning in 1926 with Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that local governments may regulate private property through zoning. This part touches on why growth management programs were instituted by the states and why early efforts proved only partially successful. This part also offers a history and short description of Florida's leadership role in the development of growth management theory and describes how local governments developed local comprehensive plans as required by Florida's growth management laws.

Part III then analyzes the impact of the Florida Supreme Court's decision in Board of County Commissioners of Brevard County v. Snyder on Florida's growth management program. In Snyder, the court ruled that certain land use decisions are quasi-judicial in nature and subject to strict scrutiny by writ of certiorari. That ruling cast the Florida growth management program into turmoil by imposing procedural requirements in land use decisions that inhibit the public's ability to participate. The ruling also undercuts the administrative review procedure established in the Growth Management Act and makes the courts the final arbiters of local government planning decisions.

Next, Part IV analyzes some of the legal issues courts must wrestle with in applying Snyder to local government comprehensive plan amendment decisions. This part concludes that Snyder's application of strict scrutiny is finding its way into land use cases not traditionally subject to such review. Rather, those decisions were traditionally given great deference by the courts. Part V connects Snyder's application of strict scrutiny in review ing comprehensive plan amendment decisions to the recent line of United States Supreme Court decisions raising the level of scrutiny given to cases involving regulatory takings. This part concludes that although the Snyder Court sought to remove politics from land use decision making, the effect of applying strict scrutiny to comprehensive plan amendment decisions shifts the focus of political pressure from elected local officials to elected circuit court judges. This not only fails to achieve the court's purpose, it violates the doctrine of separation of powers.

Part VI consists of two interviews. The first is with Noreen Dreyer, the former County Attorney for Martin County. Two years after Martin County adopted its comprehensive plan, three plan amendment decisions made by the Martin County Commission were challenged in circuit court. Ms. Dreyer points out that by giving property owners a second chance at every land use decision through strict scrutiny, Snyder shifts the resources of a local government away from planning and into litigation. The second interview is with Richard Grosso, Legal Director of 1000 Friends of Florida. He advocates changes in the growth management program not only to accommodate Snyder, but also to refine the process to address the requirements of the Florida Private Property Rights Protection Act. Part VII concludes that although Florida has been a leader in growth management since 1972, its growth management program is in danger of collapsing under the weight of strict judicial scrutiny.

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