Florida has developed very rapidly.
In just the last 50 years, populations around the state have
exploded. People bring with
them a need for roads, schools, hospitals and other support.
Because of rapid growth, the limitations of the natural resources and
the need to implement smart growth plans have become a high priority.
Though it’s been criticized by developers and environmentalists
alike, Florida’s growth management laws are among some of the toughest. Still, having laws on the books fairly enforcing them can
sometimes be two different things. In
Florida the battle between growth and environmental protection is quite
One thing is certain, no agency or group of agencies can
enforce enough laws to protect Florida completely. Cooperation among developers, environmentalists and
government agencies is necessary if we are to ensure that economic and
environmental sustainability share the highest priority.
To some it may appear that these three difference groups have
differing agendas which make cooperation a nearly impossible task.
In reality, there is one concept which unites them all- sustainability.
The idea of sustainable development is starting to take hold.
Government, environmental and private concerns are recognizing that
we can no longer afford to grow beyond our means.
Florida lost more than half its wetlands in the last century.
To maintain our environmental treasures, our quality of life and our
vital groundwater supply, it is essential that remaining wetlands be
Sustainability is the idea that Florida can develop
reasonably and rationally, providing economic opportunity for all its
residents while still protecting out unique and delicate environment.
If you think about it, environmentalists want to protect Florida’s
wildlife and habitats, but they recognize that growth is a continual
process. The business community
recognizes that economic opportunity is important but won’t last if we
ruin our quality of life. And
government agencies are beginning to realize that the essence of genuine
protection is found when the business community is rewarded for doing the
At the same time, the Florida Legislature has decided that
property rights and associated economic development are also important for
How can these be balanced?
How can property owners and developers have the right to use
their assets while we ensure the environment is protected?
For government to do well in this new, collaborative environment,
they will have to think outside the traditional, regulatory mindset.