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Straight Facts?

Straight Facts?

On the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance website, they have a list of what they call:

STRAIGHT FACTS addressing misinformation and rumors:

The truth will always stand up to scrutiny.  Let’s see if they are telling the truth.  Their words are in red and black.  Mine are green.

MISINFORMATION Wakulla County has paid $600,000 for wetlands lawsuits – the most that has been paid was an out-of-court settlement of approximately $125,000 for administrative errors made by the county.

Let’s straighten this out.  It’s not that difficult to verify the truth and stick with the facts.  Show me the money!

MISINFORMATION Changes cannot be made to the wetlands ordinance after the referendum is passed: This is not true. The wetlands referendum allows commissioners to make wetlands changes with a unanimous vote or by referendum.

This comment matches the WWA’s proposed referendum.  I’m not personally aware of anyone making the statement they are calling misinformation, so I would encourage the WWA to quote their source for this statement.

MISINFORMATION Builders need to use the wetlands to be profitable: Not so. A few developers will profit. At this time, Wakulla County has over 7,000 buildable lots waiting to be built upon. Builders have thousands of Wakulla County lots for construction and new jobs without destroying wetlands.

I would encourage the WWA to quote their source for this statement also.  It certainly did not come from me!  My initial reaction, the WWA is probably the one spreading misinformation on this one.  Even if Wakulla County had no Wetlands Ordinance at all, state regulations do not allow development in the wetlands, when avoidable.  When unavoidable, mitigation is required to offset adverse impacts.

Here is an excerpt from DEP’s policy titled “OVERVIEW OF THE WETLAND AND OTHER SURFACE WATER REGULATORY AND PROPRIETARY PROGRAMS IN FLORIDA”

Elimination and reduction of otherwise unpermittable adverse impacts to wetlands and other surface waters is required to the maximum extent practicable prior to considering whether mitigation can be accepted. However, Florida does not have an alternatives analysis like that in federal regulations. In some cases, mitigation may not be able to offset impacts sufficiently to yield a permittable project.

Source: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wetlands/docs/erp/overview.pdf page 8

In layman’s terms, according to State Regulations, if a property owner’s proposed project will adversely impact wetlands, they must take every step to first eliminate or reduce the impact.  If they own sufficient upland property, (not a wetland) they would be required to build on the upland.  They could not arbitrarily choose to build in the wetlands.  If their proposed project will not fit on their property, without causing adverse impacts to wetlands, they may get a permit to build but they would be required to mitigate the adverse impact.  Mitigation means actions taken to compensate for adverse impacts to a wetland.  If the property owner could not demonstrate the ability to provide sufficient mitigation, the state permit would be denied.

MISINFORMATION Building more along the coast will improve our market: Not true. Overbuilding depresses the market: In fact, continued overbuilding will bring all of our property values lower as the glut of unsold homes continues.

I would encourage the WWA to quote their source for this statement too.  For the sake of discussion, let’s assume they are able to quote the source of this comment.  Let’s unpack their rebuttal of the alleged misinformation.

Where would we find enough buildable coastal property to cause overbuilding?  Almost all of coastal property in Wakulla County is owned by the State and Federal Government and will never be buildable.  Anyone taking a nice Sunday drive through our coastal communities will quickly realize, the vast majority of private coastal property already has a home on it.  (I’ll let you in on a WWA secret.  Most of their leaders live in these homes, that are built on, or near, the wetlands.  I wonder how they are able to live in harmony with the environment, yet they think you shouldn’t be allowed to do the same.)  I think there is a word for that, hypocrite!  Do you like it when people say “Do as I say, not as I do?”  I didn’t think so.  I don’t either.  That’s why I’m not going to allow them deceive or bully the good people of Wakulla County!

I find it interesting that they chose to use the word “overbuilding”.  I’m not aware of anyone who is advocating overbuilding.  I have only heard comments that pertain to responsible growth and a proper balance between environmental protection and property rights.  It appears that the word overbuilding is used to paint a derogatory mental picture to influence those who visit their web page.  Every person in our county may have a different definition for “overbuilding”.  Some folks prefer to live on farms with hundreds of acres.  Some prefer to live in apartments.  Some prefer to live in the woods and occasionally visit our beaches and rivers.  Some prefer to live on the water and occasionally visit our forests.  Some want to live downtown, close to shopping.  Others prefer to avoid downtown as much as possible.  I encourage the WWA to tell us what they mean by overbuilding.  I’m certain they do not have the authority to define overbuilding for the entire county

Considering the amount of protected land that we already have, does it seem likely that overbuilding will occur?  Maybe the WWA should compare Wakulla County to other counties to see how we measure up.

MISINFORMATION Just a few environmentalists produced the current wetlands ordinance: Not true. Wakulla County’s wetlands protection ordinance was created by experts from throughout the community, including developers and business leaders, and after months of work, it was approved unanimously by commissioners who commended these community leaders for all their hard work.

This article lists the committee members along with a description of their background.  View it here.

If they can’t stick to the truth, and are willing to deceive you to convince you to sign their petition.  Do you think it’s a good idea to sign it?

Curvy road

2 Responses to “Straight Facts?”

  1. Jack Land says:

    Can a proposal be introduced to the Wakulla county Charter that allows petition signatures to be withdrawn if someone changes their mind?

    I noticed our charter doesn’t allow for this, but with initiative and recall it needs to allow us to change our minds.

    It looks like the charter can be changed with only 4 votes of the commission. I think 4 votes will be there. We just need people like you who stand up for us taxpayers.

    • ralph says:

      Mr. Land,

      The petition process is controlled by state statute, which does not allow the signer to withdraw it if he changes his mind. 4 Commissioners can amend the charter as long as the change does not conflict with state law. That would not help us in this case.

      I hope everyone understands, the petition process, that is currently underway, is about much more than wetlands. It’s about a group of citizens collectively deciding their control of private property caries more weight than the control possessed by the property owner. I sincerely hope everyone will take a look “down the road”. Every person who signs that petition, is establishing a precedent, that they consent to the majority control of their personal property. The issue may be wetlands today, but will surely be something different in the future. It’s vitally important that we protect the sanctity of property right. I will always stand up for freedom and individual liberty. If we can’t control our own property, then we are property.

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