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Buffer Zone or Twilight Zone?

Buffer Zone or Twilight Zone?
For more than a year now, the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has been trying to convince voters to impose a new layer of government upon themselves. I know, I wouldn't believe it either if I had not seen it unfold myself. They have tried to convince the good people of Wakulla County that we need an ordinance that establishes a 75 foot buffer around wetlands. They have told us this will protect Wakulla Springs. They have told us this will improve our water quality. They have told us this will reduce the nitrogen that goes into the aquifer and makes its way to Wakulla Springs. We all want to protect our water quality. This sounds like a pretty good idea and sounds believable, right? Let's take a closer look. It is now common knowledge that the largest contributor of nitrogen into Wakulla Springs comes from the Tallahassee spray field. It turns out, the spray field is more than 75 feet from Wakulla Springs. It's actually more like 20 miles from Wakulla Springs. We could consider that a 20 mile buffer zone, yet, nitrogen still ends up in Wakulla Springs. If a 20 mile buffer zone fails to protect our water quality, how will the proposed 75 foot buffer make a difference? The truth is, it will not make a difference, especially considering the fact that the proposed ordinance does not regulate the allowable location of septic tanks. If the proposed wetlands ordinance is adopted, you will be able to install a septic tank in the exact same spot as you would with no wetlands ordinance. It's important that we understand, the proposed ordinance has nothing to do with water quality. The proposed ordinance is about control. When you cast your vote, you will make a choice. Who should control your property, you, or a small group who use deception and fear to control growth and eliminate private property rights? It's up to you. Will you vote to protect property rights? Will you encourage your friends and neighbors to show up at the polls to protect property rights? I hope you will and I hope you will vote No on Referendum...

Septic Tanks Wetlands and Wakulla Springs...

Septic Tanks Wetlands and Wakulla Springs
At this point, I'm sure everyone in Wakulla County is aware of the Wetlands discussion that has taken place over the past year.  I'm not aware of any topic that has generated more passion than this one.  We are fortunate to live in one of the most natural and beautiful counties in the entire state.  We all understand the valuable role played by wetlands.  We all want to protect wetlands and preserve our way of life.   Unfortunately, passion for an issue does not always guarantee that the truth will emerge.  Often times, the truth is overlooked or even suppressed when it does not fit neatly within the tactic chosen to achieve the end result.  Here is an example. The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has spent the past year educating our citizens about the importance of wetlands.  Most of their tactic has been centered on water quality.  Most of their water quality statements have been centered on the quality of water that flows out of Wakulla Springs and ultimately makes its way into our Gulf and estuaries.  To reinforce this point, they cite statistics regarding the nitrogen levels that are detected in Wakulla Springs.  They correctly blame septic tanks as one of the sources of nitrogen that makes its way to our springs.  After setting this stage, it is natural human instinct for all of us to be emotionally connected to this issue.  We all understand the value of clean drinking water.  We can't live without it.  We all understand the recreational and commercial benefit we receive from our lakes, rivers, estuaries and Gulf.  Once we are emotionally connected to this issue, it's natural to wonder or ask, what can we do to help?  After the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has us emotionally invested, it's easy for them to take advantage of our sincere desire to help.  They tell us to vote yes on Referendum A if we want to protect our water and fisheries.  They tell us to adopt the proposed wetlands ordinance. I must admit, that's a pretty easy sell.  It's not difficult to get good people invested in their sell pitch.  But are they telling us the truth, or are they taking advantage of our emotions and our innate desire to protect our home?  Let's take a closer look. If you are like most people, there is a good...

Local Control?

Local Control?
      When a private property owner controls his own property, without Government overreach, THAT is the ultimate measure of LOCAL CONTROL! Don't give up control of your property! Don't allow more Government overreach into your life! Keep YOUR Local...

More Freedom

More Freedom
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Protect Your Rights!

Protect Your Rights!

The Choice is Clear

The Choice is Clear
    It would not be responsible to protect property rights, while destroying wetlands. It also would not be responsible to protect wetlands, while destroying property rights. A Yes vote on Referendum A will protect wetlands that are already protected by the State while degrading private property rights. A No vote on Referendum A will continue State wetlands protection, while strengthing local private property rights. To protect both wetlands and property rights, the choice is clear. Vote No on Referendum A....

Grandpa, Tell Me About the Good Old Days

Grandpa, Tell Me About the Good Old Days
    Mirriam Webster defines Grandfather Clause as: Take a guess how many times the word Grandfather appears in the proposed Wetlands Ordinance.   Would you believe… 0   That's right!  No Grandfather Clause at all.   In fact, Sec. 32.004. of the proposed ordinance states, "This chapter applies to all development, as defined in this chapter, that may occur within Wakulla County." But, there are some exemptions… Sec. 32.011. – Exemptions. The following activities are exempt from application of this chapter: Development activities conducted in the following, so long as they were not constructed in wetlands or other surface waters and do not intercept an aquifer: artifically constructed waterbodies, including canals, lakes, and ditches that are not hydrologically connected to wetlands or other surface waters or are not a part of a government-approved mitigation plan; swales; stormwater facilities; gravel pits; stone quarries; or wastewater treatment lagoons. (2) Dredging and filling activities conducted within wetlands or other surface waters for which state and/or federal permits were issued for such purposes prior to the effective date of this chapter and which are still valid. (3) Bona fide agricultural uses and silviculture activities, as well as any activity of a bona fide farm operation on land classified as agricultural land pursuant to F.S. § 193.461, if such activity is regulated through implemented best management practices, interim measures, or regulations developed by the department of environmental protection, the department of agriculture and consumer services, or a water management district and adopted under F.S. ch. 120, as part of a statewide or regional program. (4) Vegetation maintenance and tree pruning or trimming of utility easements and rights-of-way by a utility company, so long as such activity conforms to all requirements of law. (5) Development within a wetland or other surface water which is smaller than 500 square feet in size or development within a buffer adjacent to a wetland or other surface water which is smaller than 500 square feet in size, provided the area in which the development will occur is not within the buffer of a wetland or other surface water that is 500 square feet in size or larger. (b) The requirements of this chapter shall not be applicable to development occurring adjacent to springs, karst features, or sinkholes, which shall instead be governed by Policies 13.1 through 13.12 of the...

Wetlands Question and Answer – Can I Rebuild My Home if it gets Destroyed?...

Wetlands Question and Answer – Can I Rebuild My Home if it gets Destroyed?
Question: If you have a home, let's say on the river, and it's destroyed by a hurricane or some other natural occurrence and you have to rebuild, if your home was less than 75 feet from the wetlands, can you rebuild in same place? Answer:  Here is the applicable section from the proposed ordinance.  Sec. 32.007. – Allowable uses. (a) The following uses shall be permitted in wetlands and other surface waters and buffers, provided they do not have an adverse impact on the wetland or other surface water. (1) Construction, repair, replacement or maintenance of docks, piers, boardwalks, observation decks, and other elevated walkways, used for water dependent activities, provided such structure meets the design standards contained in section 32.010 of this chapter, and so long as all applicable state and federal permits have been obtained prior to commencement of such activities. (2) The construction of private seawalls within an artificially created waterbody where such construction adjoins two existing seawalls not more than 150 feet apart. (3) Parks and recreation uses consistent with the purpose and intent of this chapter. (4) Conservation and preservation areas and nature trails. (5) Hunting, trapping, and fishing, environmental education, and scientific research where not otherwise prohibited by law, and consistent with the purpose and intent of this chapter. (6) Installation of boundary fences that do not alter the hydrology of the wetland or other surface water and which meet the design standards contained in section 32.010 of this chapter. (7) Removal of exotic invasive plants in a manner consistent with the design standards set forth in section 32.010 of this chapter. (8) Development activity for which the developer has received a valid development order from Wakulla County prior to the effective date of this chapter, so long as such development order has not expired or been revoked. (9)The renewal, improvement or alteration of 50 percent or less of any structure, so long as such renewal, improvement, or alteration remains within the same footprint as the original structure. (10)The repair or replacement of legally constructed structures damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster or fire, so long as such repair or replacement remains within the same footprint as the original structure. On the surface, it appears that replacement would be allowed in the wetlands or in the buffer zones as long as the...

Wetlands Question and Answer – I Don’t Own Any Wetlands...

Wetlands Question and Answer – I Don’t Own Any Wetlands
I received the following question from a citizen seeking clarification of the proposed Wetlands Ordinance.  I welcome the opportunity to share the truth! Question:  I don’t own any wetlands.  This issue doesn’t affect me personally.  Why should I vote NO? Answer:  This is a question that I hear quite often.  Consider this.  If Referendum A passes every property owner and tax payer in Wakulla County will potentially by affected in at least two ways. 1.  By potential lawsuits.  Wakulla County tax payers have already paid legal fees and settlement costs for law suits related to our first wetlands ordinance.  I covered this in a previous post that you can see by clicking here.    The Bert Harris Act, in Florida Statutes, states, “When a specific action of a governmental entity has inordinately burdened an existing use of real property or a vested right to a specific use of real property, the property owner of that real property is entitled to relief, which may include compensation for the actual loss to the fair market value of the real property caused by the action of government, as provided in this section.”   I covered the Bert Harris Act in detail in a previous post.  You can see it by clicking here.  2.  By  devaluation of land value.  If Referendum A passes, the proposed buffer zones will decrease the buildable area of lots that contain wetlands.  It will also   decrease the buildable area of many lots that do not contain wetlands.  For example, if you have no wetlands on your property but your neighbor has                     wetlands on his property, the 75 feet wetlands buffer may very well extend onto your property making that portion of your property unbuidable.  When we make land unbuildable or unusable, we decrease the market value of that land.  If we decrease the market value, we also decrease the County Taxable Value.  If we decrease the Taxable Value, the County will receive less tax revenue.  If the County receives less tax revenue a decision has to be be made to cut government services or increase taxes to maintain the current government services.  Both of these options will affect all Wakulla County Citizens. The risk I have described above does not currently exist in Wakulla County.  We eliminated this...

Was the Wetlands Petition Really About the Right to Vote?...

Was the Wetlands Petition Really About the Right to Vote?
Last year, the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance embarked on a petition drive to give the Citizens of Wakulla County the “Right to Vote”.  Were they being sincere when they told everyone this issue was about the right to vote or was that message chosen to convince voters to sign their petition?  Was it ever really about the right to vote?  Let’s take a look to see if their actions line up with their words. In the photo below, you can see their message. Now let’s take a look at what our County Charter says… To summarize, after the minimum number of petitions are obtained, the Board of County Commissioners had 2 choices: 1. Adopt the ordinance as referenced on the petition, which would take away the citizens right to vote on this issue. 2. Do not adopt the ordinance as referenced on the petition and allow the citizens to vote on the proposed ordinance. If the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance sincerely wanted the voters of Wakulla County to have the right to vote, wouldn’t it make sense that they would encourage the Board to approve option #2, Do not adopt the ordinance and give the voters the right to vote? Unfortunately, that is not what they did.  The vast majority of speakers encouraged the Board to adopt the ordinance and take away the voters right to vote on this issue. It turns out, the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance abandoned their “Right to Vote” message after the petitions were obtained. Thanks to 4 Commissioners, you still have the right to vote and I hope you will vote NO on Referendum A! You now know the truth. Your friends and family deserve to know the truth also. Please share this with everyone you know and please leave a comment below. See for yourself by clicking the link below!...

Tyranny in Wakulla?

Tyranny in Wakulla?
Merriam Webster defines Tyranny as:  Why is this important to Wakulla County?  In November, you will be asked to vote for or against a proposed Wetlands Ordinance.  The ordinance includes the following statement:  Sec. 32.016. Ordinance Modification or Repeal. This chapter may only be modified or repealed by a referendum of the voters in Wakulla County, as provided for in the Wakulla County Charter, or by a unanimous vote of all five Wakulla County Commissioners at a legally called Wakulla County Commission meeting. If the new ordinance is adopted and we later realize that it needs to be amended, all 5 Commissioners will have to agree to change it.  If one Commissioner refuses to agree with the others, that one Commissioner will possess the power to “Veto” the other 4 Commissioners. Even if you support the wetlands ordinance, do you think it is a good idea to elevate one Commissioner to have power over the other 4?  This will be equivalent to a Presidential Veto, with one major exception.  If the President of the United States vetoes a decision made by congress, congress can override the veto with a two thirds vote.  No member of the United States Congress has the power to veto the entire governing body.  No member of the State Legislature has the power to veto the entire governing body.  No County in the State of Florida has an ordinance with a  Tyranny Clause.  Wakulla County will be the first, if this ordinance passes.  Our Government is built on a system of checks and balances, not supreme power by a single individual.  Why would we give this power to a single Commissioner? This risk does not exist today.  A yes vote on Referendum A will create this situation in Wakulla County.  A NO vote on Referendum A will eliminate this threat. You now know the truth. Your friends and family deserve to know the truth also. Please share this with everyone you...

King of Wakulla

King of Wakulla
What would you say, if someone proposed changing the Government structure in Wakulla County to give one Commissioner the power to control the other 4?  Would you vote for that?  Which one of your current Commissioners would you want to have this ultimate power? Would you believe it, if I told you we have a group of people in Wakulla County who want you to vote for this?  The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance wants you to vote to adopt a wetlands ordinance in November.  This proposed ordinance includes the following statement, “these regulations can only be modified or repealed by referendum vote or unanimous vote of the County Commission”. So imagine this.  If the new ordinance is adopted and we later realize that it needs to be amended, all 5 Commissioners will have to agree to change it.  At first that doesn’t sound too bad.  If all 5 Commissioners agree, chances are the change is truly needed right?  What happens if a change is truly needed, but one Commissioner doesn’t agree with the other 4?  In that situation, we no longer have majority rule or consensus rule.  We will then have a situation where one Commissioner has the power to control the entire board.  If the lone Commissioner refuses to reach consensus with the others, a referendum will be required to take the issue back to the voters. Even if you support the wetlands ordinance, do you think it is a good idea to give one Commissioner, power over the other 4?  This will be equivalent to a Presidential Veto, with one major exception.  If the President of the United States vetoes a decision made by congress, congress can override the veto with a two thirds vote.  No member of the United States Congress has the power to veto the entire governing body.  No member of the State Legislature has the power to veto the entire governing body.  Our Government is built on a system of checks and balances, not supreme power by a single individual.  Why would we give this power to a single Commissioner?  I don’t want it!  I don’t want my fellow Commissioners to have it and I don’t want future Commissioners to have it. This risk does not exist today.  A yes vote on Referendum A will create this situation in Wakulla County.  A NO vote...

Entire Wetlands Ordinance

Entire Wetlands Ordinance
It seems that everyone has an opinion about the new wetlands ordinance that will appear on the ballot in November.  I certainly do!  If you are a Wakulla County voter, your opinion, and the opinion of your neighbors will determine the fate of the ordinance and the future of our county.  I have attempted to do my best to breakdown this issue and share many of the key components of the proposal.  Several people have asked me how they can get a copy of the entire ordinance.  The proposed ordinance is almost identical to the prior ordinance with the addition of the following language: Sec. 32.016. Ordinance Modification or Repeal. This chapter may only be modified or repealed by a referendum of the voters in Wakulla County, as provided for in the Wakulla County Charter, or by a unanimous vote of all five Wakulla County Commissioners at a legally called Wakulla County Commission meeting. To View the entire proposed ordinance CLICK HERE! After you read it, please share your comments below....

Question and Answer – Wetlands Ordinance Modification...

Question and Answer – Wetlands Ordinance Modification
I received the following question from a citizen seeking clarification of the proposed ordinance.  I welcome the opportunity to share the truth! Question: If the ordinance is adopted and causes law suits to be brought against the County, I was told it could be changed with a unanimous vote of all 5 Commissioners.  Is this true? Answer: That is a great question, unfortunately, it is not completely true, because it does not tell the whole truth.  That statement was included on the petitions that were signed to place the ordinance on the ballot.  It also appears in the resolution that placed the referendum on the ballot, as follows: “Sec. 32.016. Ordinance Modification or Repeal. This chapter may only be modified or repealed by a referendum of the voters in Wakulla County, as provided for in the Wakulla County Charter, or by a unanimous vote of all five Wakulla County Commissioners at a legally called Wakulla County Commission meeting.”  Here’s the problem.  The Wakulla County Charter 6.1.2 states, “The Board of County Commissioners shall not amend or repeal an ordinance adopted by initiative prior to the next succeeding general election, without the approval of a majority of the electors voting at a referendum called for that purpose.” Therefore, if the ordinance needs to be changed for any reason, the Board of County Commissioner will have no authority to change it for 2 years, until the 2016 General Election.  Prior to this date, it can only be changed by a special referendum by the voters of Wakulla County.   The Wakulla County Charter, section 6.1 also states, “The electors of Wakulla County shall have the right to initiate county ordinances in order to establish new legislation that is not in conflict with the State Constitution, general law or this Charter…” So, language in the proposed ordinance will be in conflict with the County Charter.  This is yet another reason why the proposed ordinance is bad for Wakulla County.  It will bring risk and financial liability to our tax payers and our hands will be tied to correct it.  The best way to avoid this risk is to vote NO and encourage your friends and family to do the same. The risk I have described above does not currently exist in Wakulla County.  We eliminated this risk when we repealed the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance.  A...

Quick Fact – Is the Financial Risk to Wakulla County Real?...

Quick Fact – Is the Financial Risk to Wakulla County Real?
By now, you may have heard me say that the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance put our county at a financial risk of lawsuits.  This risk, along with my desire to protect property rights was the basis for my support of repealing the local ordinance.  My opponents, on this issue, do not posses the same commitment to property rights and they appear to be unconcerned about the financial risk they are inviting on Wakulla County Tax Payers.  I want you to know that the risk is REAL!  Below, you will find excerpts from the Florida Statute know as the “Private Property Rights Protection Act”.  I have included the most relevant sections for brevity and to communicate the basic idea.  To ensure that I am not accused of taking any part out of context, at the bottom of this article I have included a link to the entire statute.  All of my comments are in blue text.  The remainder is directly out of the Florida Statute. Section 70.001 of Florida Statute is referred to as the “Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act.” The Legislature recognizes that some laws, regulations, and ordinances of the state and political entities in the state, as applied, may inordinately burden, restrict, or limit private property rights without amounting to a taking under the State Constitution or the United States Constitution. The Legislature determines that there is an important state interest in protecting the interests of private property owners from such inordinate burdens. Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature that, as a separate and distinct cause of action from the law of takings, the Legislature herein provides for relief, or payment of compensation, when a new law, rule, regulation, or ordinance of the state or a political entity in the state, as applied, unfairly affects real property. (2) When a specific action of a governmental entity has inordinately burdened an existing use of real property or a vested right to a specific use of real property, the property owner of that real property is entitled to relief, which may include compensation for the actual loss to the fair market value of the real property caused by the action of government, as provided in this section. (e) The terms “inordinate burden” and “inordinately burdened”: 1. Mean that an action of one or more governmental entities has directly restricted...

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