A look at government events from around the Gulf Coast
Collier approves Mirasol project
COLLIER COUNTY — The Collier County Commission voted 4-1 April 28 to approve up to 799 homes and two golf courses at the Mirasol community on 1,500 acres at the northwest corner of Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard. Since 2001, landowner IM Collier Joint Venture and environmental groups have battled over the project's effect on wetlands, water quality and wood storks. A federal lawsuit over the project's U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit is pending, but now the project has the approvals to apply for county permits to start work. The county's Environmental Advisory Council and Planning Commission had voted to recommend that commissioners approve the new Mirasol project.
Impact fees yo-yo
SARASOTA COUNTY — The County Commission agenda for May 5 included several proposals to modify impact fee rates. First, the current rates that have been in effect since June 2007 would remain in effect for permits accepted through May 2010 instead of a previously planned phased-in increase. Current rates are 67.83% of the county consultant's 2007 recommendations. For certificates of occupancy issued through Dec. 31, 2010, the fees would decrease to 50% of the consultant's recommendation. For permit applications filed on or after June 1, 2010, the fees would be raised to 100% of the original recommendation.
Property tax reform approved
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Legislature voted to approve property tax reform which lowers the burden of proof from “clear and convincing evidence” to “preponderance of the evidence.” The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, retains the property appraiser's presumption, but lowers the burden of proof on taxpayers to overcome this presumption to a “preponderance of the evidence.”
Workers' comp bill passes
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Senate passed workers' compensation attorneys' fee reform (HB 903) which was previously passed by the House. This legislation places caps on attorneys' fees in workers' compensation cases.
Impact fee rules changed
TALLAHASSEE — On a 107-10 vote the Florida House of Representatives approved House Bill 227 tilted the legal standard for impact fee challenges toward developers. Under the bill sponsored by Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, in any action challenging an impact fee, local governments now have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount of the fees meets the requirements of state legal precedent or the Florida Impact Fee Act. The Senate approved the bill 26-11.
Pilon challenges Fitzgerald
FLORIDA — Republican and former Sarasota County Commissioner Ray Pilon has filed to challenge incumbent State Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, for the District 69 House seat. Pilon is government/community affairs director for the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority. Pilon's wife, Casey, who unsuccessfully ran for the County Commission in 2006, is her husband's campaign manager. Fitzgerald, a New College political science professor, defeated Republican Laura Benson last November to gain his second term.
Building ordinances, impact fees on agenda for the Charlotte County Commission May 12 at 10 a.m. These include public hearings on a green building ordinance, an ordinance relating to buildings and building regulations and an ordinance extending residential and commercial impact fees. The meeting is at the Administration Center, 18500 Murdock Circle, Port Charlotte. For more information call (941) 743-1317.
The Collier County Commission is holding its Strategic Planning Workshop May 13 at 9 a.m. in the board Chambers, Third Floor, W. Harmon Turner Building, 3301 E. Tamiami Trail, Naples.
The St. Pete City Council is holding a fiscal year 2010 Budget Workshop to discuss the capital improvements program on May 12 from 1-5 p.m. in Room 100. The next budget workshop meeting on May 26 will focus on the operating budget. Both meetings are in the Municipal Building, 175 5th St. N.
The last in a series of eight iTown Hall meetings where residents can give their input by phone on commuter rail, light rail and bus transit plans proposed by the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority is May 13 at 7 p.m. Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and Florida Department of Transportation District 7 Secretary Don Skelton will be available along with TBARTA staff to answer questions and take input. Interested citizens who wish to join the iTownHall meeting may call toll-free, 1-877-269-7289 and enter PIN# 14837 prior to each call.
In addition to the iTownHall meetings, residents may comment on the draft Regional Transportation Master Plan at a public hearing on May 11 at 6 p.m. at the Alfano Center at 11606 N. McKinley Drive, Tampa. Information about this public hearing and the plans can be found at the TBARTA website, www.tbarta.com, where citizens may also submit comments.