A bill introduced in the Florida Legislature last month would force citizens who file lawsuits opposing local government land-use amendments, including zoning for new housing projects, to pay the local government’s legal fees if the public agency prevails.

HB 359, authored by state Rep. Wyman Duggan (R-Jacksonville), sponsored the legislation, which some Florida environmentalists feel would serve to hamstring people’s ability to fight against development of fragile lands around the state.

Under the provisions of the bill, “the prevailing party in a challenge to a (comprehensive) plan or plan amendment is entitled to recover attorney fees and costs,” the text of the bill says, “… awarding attorney fees and costs, including reasonable appellate attorney fees and costs, to the prevailing party in a challenge to the compliance of a small-scale development amendment.”