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Chamber joins fight against Amendment 4

Published Monday, August 23, 2010 7:00 am

Coral Springs Chamber of Commerce has joined the statewide campaign against Amendment 4, a proposed constitutional amendment that would put changes to city and county comprehensive plans on the ballot. The proposed change, sponsored by Florida Hometown Democracy, will be on the statewide ballot in November this year and will pass if it gets 60 percent approval at the polls.

A recent chamber's breakfast meeting featured Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis, who spearheads Broward County's campaign against Amendment 4, as the guest speaker. Ortis and other local leaders who are against the amendment have been going around the county seeking public support. All of the 31 municipalities in the county have also passed resolutions opposing the amendment.

According to ballotpedia.org, Amendment 4 "establishes that before a local government may adopt a new comprehensive land use plan, or amend a comprehensive land use plan, the proposed plan or amendment shall be subject to vote of the electors of the local government by referendum, following preparation by the local planning agency, consideration by the governing body and notice."

"Amendment 4 is going to raise your taxes and mine; it is a terrible, terrible amendment that will destroy Florida if it passes," Ortis said. "If you need a shopping center or a hospital in the west side of town in Coral Springs, the east side of the city or the rest of it can vote it [the proposal] down."

"It is a litigious nightmare. We will have not only land use changes on the ballot but also technical changes. Supporters of the amendment do not talk about that," Ortis said. "With all the technical issues that you have, you could literally have hundreds of ballot issues. St. Pete Beach approved a local version of Amendment 4 [and] it has cost them $800,000 in lawsuits."

A vote for Amendment 4 will impede the speed of economic recovery in Broward County, said Roy Gold, Broward League of Cities president and Coral Springs Commissioner. "If there is a local issue, we will be voting for it countywide if the amendment passes. I will get to vote on an issue in Hallandale Beach. Someone in Dania Beach will vote on an issue in Deerfield Beach. It's ludicrous."

"The Coral Springs Chamber of Commerce has taken a position against Amendment 4," Chamber President Cindy Brief said. "The amendment will destroy businesses. All the other chambers in the county and the Florida Chamber of Commerce have taken a stand against the amendment."

Those who support the amendment say they are doing so to fight corruption in public life. Ortis said he did not think a constitutional amendment was the answer.

"There are a few elected officials who have crossed the line but it is only a miniscule few," the former Broward League of Cities president said. "I am an elected official for 14 years [and] I watch every step. If people think some politicians are corrupt, vote them out."

Ron Luzim, an attorney, talked about the "deeper problem" that had caused 700,000 people to support the proposed amendment. "We cannot be dismissive of public corruption. I agree with Ortis that most politicians are not corrupt, but there is a perception among people that many of them are. The proposed amendment is a result of that."

"I don't support it as a constitutional amendment," Luzin said. "I think the practical workings of it are going to be unwieldy. But we need to get ethics in government. We need high commitment in government."