Sunday, May 17, 2015

Charter Amendment was Not a Plan Amendment: City of Riviera Beach v. Riviera Beach Citizens Task Force et al, 87 So. 3d 18 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012).

In a case challenging a charter amendment that would put specific restrictions on the use of certain publicly owned upland and submerged land, the circuit court found the proposed ballot language was not ambiguous, the amendment was not placed on the ballot in violation of the governing statute, and the ballot did not violate the “anti-referendum” provision of § 163.3167(12), Fla. Stat.  The District Court upheld the circuit court on all points. 

With respect to the final matter, the City and the Redevelopment Agency that owned the land argued that the prohibitions eliminated uses permitted under the comprehensive plan and zoning, and therefore would require amendments to the plan and zoning.  The circuit court and district court disagreed, and the district court found there were still uses for the affected property, that were consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

Given the findings, the result was not surprising.  For whatever reason, the City did not challenge the amendment as an LDR that required hearings under § 163.3194.   This points out a problematic hole in     § 163.3167(12), even after recent amendments - while plan amendments and development orders are not subject to referenda, land development code changes are subject to referenda.  We’ll see if the statute is expanded to include LDRs after some decisions like this which still leave the development of specific sites subject to referenda.

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