A look at government actions from around the Gulf Coast
T. Rowe Price moves forward
PASCO COUNTY — T. Rowe Price, the Baltimore investment firm lured with a $30 million incentives package from county and state officials, has one less hurdle to complete its expansion into Pasco County following a recent administrative law judge's decision.
The ruling, by Administrative Law Judge Donald Alexander, excludes any evidence or testimony from an environmental group that had sought to derail the development of the 1,000-acre Long Lake Ranch off State Road 54.
Amprop plans to develop 94 acres at the eastern end of the site for the T. Rowe Price office complex.
The group, Citizens for Sanity, had challenged a water management district permit for the proposed office project by claiming that a wetland on the site was larger than depicted on a survey.
The judge, however, found the survey became the official record in June 2006 and that Citizens failed to show evidence that any changes had taken place. The decision is part of a settlement agreement with the property owners, Peter Geraci and family members, who agreed not to take action to pursue legal fees from Citizens.
Aronberg runs for AG
FLORIDA — State Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, who represents part of Lee County, has announced his bid for state Attorney General. He is expected to face fellow state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, in the Democratic primary. Gelber has not yet announced.
The only other filed candidate is Republican Jim Lewis of Fort Lauderdale, who is expected to be opposed by Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, R-Cape Coral. State Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, also has expressed interest in running for the post. Attorney General Bill McCollum is running for governor.
Aronberg was an assistant under former Attorney General Bob Butterworth. Among 42 legislators from the Gulf Coast graded by two major business organizations, Aronberg ranks 34th in average scores from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida. The senator received a 74 from AIF and a 61 from the chamber.
But Aronberg was the highest scoring Gulf Coast Democrat ranking eighth amongst the region's 11 senators. Gelber received a 46% score from the Florida Chamber, tying him for third to last among the 40 State senators. He was 39th in the AIF rankings with a 61% score having cast more votes against AIF positions than any senator.
Audubon lobbyist seeks seat
FLORIDA — Audubon of Florida lobbyist Eric Draper, a Democrat from Tallahassee, has joined six other candidates running for the agriculture commissioner seat on the Florida cabinet.
Congressman Adam Putnam, R-Bartow, who filed in February, appears to be the early favorite, having raised nearly $500,000 as of March 31. State Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, as chairman of the Senate General Government
Appropriations Committee, is also expected to be a formidable candidate in the race.
With the governor and other cabinet members running for other offices, the entire Florida cabinet will turnover after the 2010 election. Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson faces term limits and recently withdrew his name from consideration in the governor's race.
Condo bill vetoed
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a proposed law similar to one vetoed by Gov. Jeb Bush following the 2006 legislative session.
Senate Bill 714 didn't pass muster with Crist who cited “unacceptable safety risks” associated with delaying until 2025 the retrofitting of residential condominium common areas with sprinkler systems. Currently, the retrofits are required to be done by 2014.
In his veto message, Crist says he is directing the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to look at the retrofit costs and the impacts on insurance premiums and report its findings by Oct. 1.
Hillsborough County's Transportation Task Force is wrapping up a series of meetings to discuss transportation planning efforts and how to implement and fund them.
The meetings are held in conjunction with the task force's work on recommendations funding multi-modal improvements for the county. Improvements being discussed include light rail, rapid bus transit systems, roadway projects and bicycle/pedestrian improvements. The task force intends to make a final recommendation to the county commission this fall. An issue the task force will consider is a recommendation for sales tax for voter referendum in 2010. The county commission must approve placing a referendum on the ballot.
The meetings will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. in an open house format, with a presentation between 6:30-7:30 p.m. The last scheduled meetings are being held on the following dates at these locations:
• Monday, June 15, Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa
• Tuesday, June 16, Riverview High School, 11311 Boyette Road, Riverview
• Thursday, June 18, South County Regional Service Center, 410 30th St. SE., Ruskin
• Tuesday, June 23, Lutz Community Center, 98 First Ave. NW., Lutz
• Wednesday, June 24, University Area Community Center, 14013 N. 22nd St., Tampa
• Thursday, June 25, Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa
• Tuesday, June 30, City of Temple Terrace Council Chambers, 11250 N. 56th St., Temple Terrace
Enterprise Florida, in unison with The Tampa Bay Partnership, hosts the Tampa Bay Region Roadmap Strategic Planning Forum, from 1-4 p.m. Thursday, June 25, at the Valpak Manufacturing Center, One Valpak Ave. N. in St. Pete. The form will include discussions on how to make Florida the leader in knowledge-based jobs, leading-edge technology, and competitive enterprises of the 21st century. According to a press release, those who should attend include: business, community and local government leaders, workforce professionals, education officials, transportation experts, arts and culture advocates, smart growth professionals, and more. For registration information call (813) 878-2208.
COLLIER & LEE COUNTIES
The Collier and Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organizations are updating their respective Long Range Transportation Plans to 2035. The update will take about 20 months to complete.
During that time, the public will be asked to provide comments and be asked for input. The two MPOs are hosting a workshop at 1 p.m., June 17, at the Three Oaks Banquet and Conference Center, 20991 Three Oaks Parkway, Estero. Consultants will be available to explain the LRTP process and expectations, how the travel demand model works, the current project schedule, communication network and project contact information.
The combined Collier County and Lee County LRTP development will continue until the alternatives public workshop, when efforts will be handled individually by each county. The schedule for the alternatives public workshop will be announced at a later date.