Florida’s $91.5 billion budget, approved by the Florida Legislature, includes funding for just two of the projects that Pasco County requested.
Legislators approved $1 million for the Land O’ Lakes U.S. 41 beautification project, and $1 million to improve the waterfront at Miller’s Bayou.
Dade City received $5 million for the extension of Morningside Drive.
While legislators approved the projects, Gov. Ron DeSantis still have the option of vetoing the projects.
Dade City also received funding for the Morningside Drive extension in last year’s budget, but it was vetoed by then Gov. Rick Scott, according to Ralph Lair, the county’s lobbyist.
Lair briefed the Pasco County Commission on the 2019 legislative session during the commission’s May 7 meeting.
In addition to funding decisions, legislators also took actions on numerous issues expected to have impacts on the county, Lair said.
That legislation affects growth management, vegetable gardens and tree trimming or removal, he said.
The growth management bill “will make it harder to challenge a developer’s plan for a new neighborhood or changes in any local comprehensive plan,” Lair said.
“For one thing, anyone who challenges a plan amendment and loses has to pay the prevailing party the attorney’s fees,” he said.
“Also, local governments cannot require affordable housing in new developments,” he said.
State lawmakers also passed legislation that “cripples the ability for local governments to tell people where they can plant a garden in the yard,” Lair said.
“The bill places personal property rights over the authority of counties and cities to dictate where people can grow vegetables in their yard and any existing ordinance, as we have, restricting any vegetable gardens, is void and unenforceable under the law,” Lair said.
However, deed restrictions still can regulate where vegetable gardens are planted, Lair added.
Local governments also can adopt regulations relating to water use during drought, fertilizer use and control of invasive plants and species.
State lawmakers also passed legislation that will prevent local government from requiring an application approval, permit fee, or mitigation for the pruning, trimming or removal of a tree on residential property, if the property obtains documentation from a certified arborist or licensed landscape architect that the tree is a danger to person or property.
The bill also prohibits local governments from requiring replanting of trees removed or trimmed, Lair said.
The Legislature also passed a 5-year moratorium on counties and cities from passing ordinances prohibiting plastic straws, while the state studies ordinances already approved by 10 cities that have already done so. However, DeSantis has vetoed that measure.
Commissioner Mike Moore thanked Sen. Tom Lee and Ardian Zika for their hard work in pushing through the $1 million request for Land O’ Lakes Boulevard beautification.
Moore said commissioners will keep their fingers crossed that the appropriation is not vetoed by DeSantis. He said the project to upgrade the appearance along the road is needed to help with redevelopment of U.S. 41, between state roads 54 and 52.
Moore and fellow commissioners Jack Mariano and Kathryn Starkey also noted that next year, the commission should shrink their list of priorities and work hard to get them through.
Lair agreed with the approach: “Short and sweet. Condensed is best.”
He also advised commissioners to go after funding for “shovel-ready” projects.
They tend to favor projects that are ready to go, and aren’t just in a planning stage, Lair said.
Published May 22, 2019
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