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Bill would exempt state review of larger developments in 6 more counties

By Bruce Ritchie

A bill filed in advance of the 2014 legislative session would allow six more counties to avoid review by the state of some growth management decisions, continuing a trend in recent years of increasingly less state oversight.

In 2009, the Legislature passed SB 360 exempting counties designated as "dense urban land areas" from state review for "developments of regional impact." Environmental groups requested a veto but then-Gov. Charlie Crist signed the bill.

For years, developers and some cities and counties supported less review of those larger developments because of the longer timeframe required for approval. Some developers also try to avoid passing thresholds, such as the number of homes in a proposed project, that would trigger state review.

The 2009 legislation exempted those developments of regional impact (DRIs) from state review in counties with populations of 900,000 and at least 1,000 people per square mile of land area, unless the proposed developments were in designated "urban service areas" around cities.

In 2013, 242 cities met the requirement along with eight counties: Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Seminole.