The Real Deal Miami

Gov picks Florida developer to head state agency, angering environmentalists

January 07, 2011 01:35PM

Gov. Rick Scott’s appointment of the head of one of Florida’s largest development companies to oversee a state agency is being met with opposition, the Miami Herald reported. Billy Buzzett, vice president of the St. Joe Company, will take over the Department of Community Affairs, the state’s land planning and community development agency that Scott is seeking to revamp. Environmentalists view the selection of Buzzett as a sign that Scott — in his quest to create jobs and spur Florida’s economy — will allow developers to run rampant over the state’s natural resources.

Buzzett led the master planning of more than 100,000 acres and entitled more than 30,000 residential units during his eight years at St. Joe, which contributed the maximum $25,000 contribution to Scott’s inauguration. “I can’t think of anyone who would be less appropriate for that job,” said Linda Young, director of the Clean Water Network of Florida. “To put it mildly, it’s troubling to know that he’s in charge of steering the growth and development of the state. He has been at the heart and soul of some of the most destructive developments that the Florida Panhandle has seen.” Brian Burgess, Scott’s spokeperson, dismissed the criticism. “They have an agenda,” he said. “Our agenda is trying to get Florida back to work and we think we can do it responsibly.” [Miami Herald]