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Wakulla Wetlands

Please take a moment to let me know how you feel about the wetlands in Wakulla County.

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14 Responses to “Wakulla Wetlands”

  1. Diane Wilson says:

    I do agree with others that these questions need to be rewritten. What is the criteria for “near wetlands” for instance. Too vague, not enough information.

    But one thing that really needs addressed is NO ONE should be allowed to build near a wetlands with a septic system. We need to preserve our water and need to take all necessary steps, sooner rather than later, to make our bays safe to swim in.

    From what I have seen, the current discussion to do away with our wetlands ordinance is foolish and being lead by the developers. The BOCC was elected by the people and their job is to protect the citizens and the environment. People should not realized that by electing developers, they were opening up a can of worms. And if that means we need regulation, so be it! Regulation is a necessity – otherwise why are their speed limit signs?

    • ralph says:

      Ms. Wilson, the state requires a permit for septic tanks in or near the wetlands. The applicant would be required to locate the tank outside of the wetlands if at all possible. If the tank causes a negative impact to wetlands, mitigation would be required to restore wetlands sufficiently to offset the impact.

      State rules also say:
      What happens if I dredge or fill in jurisdictional wetlands without a DEP permit?

      Dredging or filling in jurisdictional wetlands or surface waters without an appropriate permit is a violation of Subsections 373.430(1)(b) and 403.161(1)(b) Florida Statutes. The DEP may require complete restoration of the unpermitted activity and can seek monetary fines of up to $10,000 per violation per day. Additionally, other local, state and federal agencies may assess their own penalties and fines.

  2. Loida says:

    The questionnaire was very redundant and some of the questions didnt have a good choice. Bottom line Commissioner Thomas we dont need to flood someone else properties for few dollars. The people that are for are talking about owners rights but what about the other owners rights that their property will get flooded? So is okay to violate other people rights?

    When people buy land they knew the classification. No one lie to the buyer. Was their choice. So is someone want to use the theme my rights are violate is bs. Was the person choice to buy property in a wetland zone.

    Dont we already has issues about flooding in our county? I have seen first hand what happen when people decides to change nature and how other people properties get affected by those not smart decisions. Guess what and Wakulla did not nothing the last time we have the big flood. Waste 25k in a study and nothing else happened.

    Please tell me if Wakulla county can afford lawsuits?

    • ralph says:

      Loida, I agree with you when you say that no one should violate the property rights of someone else, when they are developing their own property. This certainly includes not being allowed to cause storm water flooding of a neighbor’s property. Fortunately, state rules already safeguard against this. If development will require any alteration to the landscape, a state permit is required. The permitting process includes a long list of evaluation criteria that the state will consider including:
      1. Not cause adverse water quantity impact to receiving waters and adjacent lands
      2. Not cause adverse flooding to on-site or off-site property

      A local Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance is not required to make sure flooding is not caused on a neighbors property.

  3. Val LaHart says:

    I feel the Commission has not looked carefully enough at the current wetlands ordinance. It has some distinct definitions which protect the VERY IMPORTANT wetland areas. Allowing construction now affects everyone in the county–wetlands cannot function as filters if they don’t exist. And this survey is extremely poorly worded and does not address the issues of damage to the environment. LOTS of questions could address those issues satisfactorily. Better yet, LEAVE THE CURRENT WETLANDS PROTECTION ORDINANCE IN PLACE!!

    • ralph says:

      Ms. LaHart, I agree with you when you say protecting the wetlands is very important. It is not my intent to remove the protection and allow uncontrolled construction in the wetlands. The protections you speak of are also present in current state and federal rules and regulations. Removal of the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance will remove duplicate regulations, and additional cost and risk to the citizens of Wakulla County but it will not remove wetlands protections. In many ways, current state and federal requirements are more strict than our local ordinance.

  4. Al says:

    There is absolutely no good reason for building in the wetland buffer! This is the sort of agenda item that keeps us divided as a community! Why do we have to keep rehashing this thing every time a developer/commissioner see dollar signs? If this buffer goes away it wont be able to be brought back. We loose them now and they are gone for good!

    • ralph says:

      Al, it is wise and prudent for us to revisit our local ordinances when circumstances change. When the Wakulla Ordinance was adopted in 2010, the ordinance stated its purpose was “to supplement federal and state laws regulating wetlands and other surface waters in order to ensure that wetlands and other surface waters continue to serve the important functions described herein”. State regulations already include guidelines that pertain to buffer zones. This is what the state rules say, “Section 10.2.7 of the DEP/NWFWMD Applicant’s Handbook states, “An applicant must provide reasonable assurances that a regulated activity will not cause adverse secondary impacts to the water resource. A proposed system shall be reviewed under this criterion by evaluating the impacts to: wetland and surface water functions, water quality, upland habitat for bald eagles and aquatic or wetland dependent listed species, and historical and archaeological resources.” Buffers are required with a minimum width of 15 ft. and an average width of 25 ft. abutting those wetlands, unless additional measures are needed for protection of wetlands.” The current Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance establishes a set buffer distance for all properties. They are arbitrary numbers and a “one size fits all” approach. A property with sandy soil should not follow the exact same rules as a property with clay soil. The state rules establish a minimum and average distance but also says, “unless additional measures are needed for protection of wetlands”. This is a more scientific approach that still protects the wetlands. Removal of the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance will not remove protection of wetlands in Wakulla County.

  5. Ron Piasecki says:

    We should leave the comp. plan as it is.

  6. Willie says:

    Ralph, Lets get to the point. Does a 75 ft wetlands buffer prevent a developer from using their property? Not unless it was a 50’x100′ lot that does not adequatele provide area for a house, a well and a septic in the 75′ proximity of a wetland or karst feature. A 75 ft buffer does however protect wildlife animals, all of our clean drinking water we currently enjoy, OYSTERS fishermen, shrimp fishermen, commercial fishermen as well as the quality and clarity of water at WAKULLA SPRINGS?
    Who profits from no wetland protection? Please call them out at the nest meeting; is it Jerry Moore and Randy Merrit and other land developers/contractors who have already over-built homes in this county sitting in foreclosure or emplty lots not being sold in subdivision which never should have been built, dragging down local economy. These developlers are preventing the approval of new home loans because of subdivisions with sinkholes like the Park, Hidden Meadows, Wildwood Country Club and Wakulla Gardens. Most of which were financed through Wakulla Bank which contributed to that bank going out of business do to FDIC investigation. Bottom line here; there are already allowances in place that allow a developer to build closer than the 75 ft. minimum buffer through approval by the planning commission and the Board. If someone is unable to put a house on a 50’x100′ lot in Wakulla Gardens because it sits on or next to a sinkhole then perhaps they should consider writing it off or donating it to the County to help someone other than themself, perhaps the other homeowners they sold to and help them establish a decent drinking water, proper wasterwater disposal and a decent stormwater runnoff system. Our County Commissioners are elected to serve the people of Wakulla County not themselves. I just get the feeling that some of the commissioners are using their position in a unethical self serving fashion for which they should be investigated and dismissed. Jepoeardizing the entire county’s environmental ecosystm’s balance to allow a couple poor developers build on a few more lots is insane. I’ve attached one of many articles from areas where peolpe did not adaquately protect a minimum buffer around wetlands.

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/la-wetlands/

    If you have a minute please have a look.
    Concerned Citizen

    • ralph says:

      Willie, thank you for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to participate in this discussion. To answer your question, I would submit to you that 75 ft. is not a magic number that guarantees protection. State regulation require that development is only allowed if the proposed development will cause no adverse impact to wetlands. Shouldn’t that be the goal? If there is no adverse impact, why would we care if the development is 25 feet away or 75 feet away. No adverse impact means that wetlands are safe and adequately protected. I find it interesting that you specifically mentioned karst features and sinkholes. That tells me that you understand the value in protecting both. I’m assuming that you are not aware that our current ordinance does not protect either. In fact, development near these sensitive areas are completely exempt from protection by the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance. Here are the exact words from our current ordinance, “The requirements of this chapter shall not be applicable to development occurring adjacent to springs, karst features, or sinkholes”. Wouldn’t you agree that springs, karst features, and sinkholes are direct conduits to our aquifer and possibly the most sensitive areas within our county. Why would we want to keep an ordinance that does not protect these areas?

  7. Eugene D. Watkins says:

    The Wakulla wetlands ordinance are not redundant. Wakulla wetlands requires a buffer zone 35 to 75 ft from a wetlands. If the State wanted to do a better job protecting wetlands they would adopt Wakulla Counties Wetlands ordinance for the whole state. If anyone has visited springs or coastal areas in central and southern Florida they will see for themselves how poorly the State has done protecting our water resources. Wakulla county is fortunate to still have fairly healthy springs and coastal water, but there are signs our coastal waters are becoming polluted (no swimming shellpoint and mashes sands). We need Wakulla’s wetlands ordinance so we do not make the same mistake counties south of us did. We need to be a leader and keep Wakulla county waters pristine for the next generation. We need to think of the next generation and what we leave them and not just about putting a dollar in our pocket.

    • ralph says:

      Eugene, you and I both agree that our wetlands are important and should be protected. Establishing an arbitrary number such as 35 or 75 feet is no guarantee that wetlands will be adequately protected. We should desire regulations that ensure no “adverse impacts” to our wetlands. In some cases that may be achieved with a 75 ft. buffer and in other cases, wetlands may be adequately protected with a lessor distance. Science should be the determining factor, not a tape measure. State regulations clearly state that development is not permissible if there is an adverse impact to wetlands. Your point about central and south Florida are well taken. Fortunately, Wakulla County is fortunate to be different than the rest of the state. More than 70% of our beautiful county is already protected since that portion of our county is off limits to development of any kind, since it is has already been protected as State and National Forest land. This issue is not about dollars. That’s an easy accusation to make, but it’s simply not true. We all love our wetlands.

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