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Florida Smarter Growth Land Use Initiative (2010)

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The Florida Smarter Growth Land Use Initiative did not appear on the November 2, 2010 ballot in Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment to the Florida Constitution after supporters failed to collect sufficient signatures to place the measure on the ballot.[1]

The initiative proposed voter approval of changes to local land-use plans only if 10 percent of local voters sign a petition calling for the referendum. The initiative came as a response to the Florida Hometown Democracy Land Use Initiative (2010).[2]


Supporters of the initiative argue that unlike the Hometown Democracy initiative, the Smarter Growth petition would not place all minor and technical comprehensive plan changes on the ballot. Instead the initiative would place only major issues on the ballot for voters to vote. According to the group, the state of Florida averages 10,600 land use changes per year and to place each on the ballot would only clutter the ballot.[3]

Court ruling

In December 2008 the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the Smarter Growth initiative met all legal requirements and could proceed to collect the necessary signatures to place the measure on the state ballot. "At a time when many Floridians are concerned about our state's fragile economy, Hometown Democracy is simply not worth the risk. Our amendment is proof positive that there are better ideas out there," said Ryan Houck, Executive Director for Floridians for Smarter Growth, of the decision.[4]


In 2010 questions began to be raised regarding retiring Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles T. Wells and a possible conflict of interest in a case that involved the law firm he was scheduled to be employed by following his retirement. Wells' future employer, according to news reports, was the GrayRobinson law firm based in Orlando, Florida. The judge disqualified himself from cases involving the law firm on December 30, 2008, however, 30 days later in 2009 Wells participated in a ruling in which the firm was involved. On January 29, 2009 Wells voted to deny Florida Hometown Democracy's motion to rehear the Florida Smarter Growth Land Use case.[5]

According to reports, Wells accepted a senior position at GrayRobinson after authorizing the approval of Smarter Growth's petition. In response to the questions surrounding a possible conflict of interest, Wells' said, "the case had nothing to do with GrayRobinson, directly or indirectly."[5]

GrayRobinson does not represent Smarter Growth, sponsors of the proposed initiative, however its lawyers have reportedly had a significant interest in the PAC’s fortunes.[6]

The Smarter Growth initiative did not appear on the 2010 ballot because supporters failed to collect sufficient signatures. A related measure - Florida Hometown Democracy Land Use, Amendment 4 - is scheduled to appear on the November 2, 2010 ballot.

Path to the ballot

See also: Florida signature requirements

As of June 6,2009, the group, Floridians for Smarter Growth, had gathered 443,510 signatures to add its proposal to the ballot.[2] According to state signature requirements, in order to add the question to the 2010 state ballot 676,811 verified signatures must first be collected. The group had until February 1, 2010 to collect and certify the required signatures to place the initiative on the 2010 ballot.[7] However, according to reports, the group failed to collect sufficient signatures by the February deadline.[1]

See also