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The post below was published on Friday, December 24th, 2010 at 1:30 PM.

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Fourth District: Local Development

Land use fans should be interested in this decision by the Fourth District. The case involved a charter amendment proposed by the Preserve Palm Beach Political Action Committee that, in effect, would have prohibited the construction of new buildings in Royal Poinciana Plaza and required the Poinciana Theater to be used only for certain purposes. The Town of Palm Beach sought a declaratory judgment that the proposed amendment was unconstitutional because it conflicted with state law prohibiting local ballot initiatives or referenda regarding development orders. The trial court granted the town a summary judgment and removed the measure from the ballot. The district court affirmed.

A portion of the district court’s decision is particularly noteworthy. The court explained:

The right of the people to vote on issues they are entitled to vote on is one of utmost importance in our democratic system of government. But there are issues – such as the right of a small landowner to use his property subject only to government regulations – which should not be determined by popular vote. Section 163.3167(12) rightfully protects the small landowner from having to submit her development plans to the general public and ensures that those plans will be approved or not, instead, by the elected officials of the municipality in a quasi-judicial process.

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