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Florida conservationist Nathaniel  Reed endorses Amendment 4

Nathaniel P. Reed -- long one of Florida's most respected conservationists and a former Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks in the Nixon and Ford administrations -- has endorsed Amendment 4, the Hometown Democracy land-use voting rights ballot initiative.  

Reed is well known for his work in 1000 Friends of Florida and as vice chairman of the Everglades Foundation and deeply respected for his thoughtful and reasoned approach to conservation in Florida. He has served seven governors, most recently as chairman of the Commission on Florida's Environmental Future. 

Here is Reed's statement:

I have pondered the pros and cons of Amendment #4 for months.

 I have listened to expert land use planners and attorneys who warn that the amendment is not perfect and might have “unanticipated consequences”.  I have listened to the proponents who are dissatisfied with the obvious consequences of the existing system.  They have been repeatedly ignored by their elected officials who promised careful consideration of development plans and then allowed projects that are unsound and will cost the existing taxpayers a fortune.

As I have traveled the state I have seen the cost of bad development decisions by local government who have made Florida the foreclosure capital of the nation.  I am struck by the continued efforts by the development community to convince county and city officials that they can restore Florida’s economy by doing more of what made it crash.

The suggestion that Amendment 4 will cost the taxpayer’s money is laughable when you look at the untold millions the current system has cost us.  Overbuilding has left Florida’s economy in shambles.  It is the major reason that property taxes have skyrocketed.  It is the single biggest factor in uncounted environmental damage to Florida’s natural systems.  Every study ever done shows that bad growth management costs citizens in money and quality of life.

I have been involved in the state’s once meaningful comprehensive planning program for 30 years, beginning with then Governor Bob Graham’s efforts to produce a new vision on how Florida could grow and prosper with due regard to livability and protection of unique areas that make our state uniquely beautiful.

During the intervening years the mad, insatiable desire of the development community has overwhelmed local concerns and produced a Florida that is uglier than it ever should have become.  We have lost the promise of thoughtful development that create livable communities and substituted “pay for play” as the standard for development approval.

There are faults with Amendment #4, but with the evisceration of the Department of Community Affairs that once was the hallmark of sound decision making, I am at the stage where I believe that we need to take a chance.  We need to send a message to our elected officials that communities have a right to control their destiny.

My vote for Amendment 4 represents my discontent if not disgust with the return to an era of uncaring, anything goes development without caring for local input or the impact on our remaining undeveloped land.

Nathaniel Reed

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