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Wetlands Question and Answer – State of Florida Reaction Time...

Wetlands Question and Answer – State of Florida Reaction Time
Below, you will find a question I received from a concerned citizen.  I welcome all questions and I appreciate the opportunity to share the truth! Question: When I’ve spoken to some who plan to vote yes in November they state that it is because the state fails to react in time before irreversible damage is done to the wetlands. They feel that having the county ordinance in place helps ensure the state doesn’t drop the ball. I’ve really haven’t heard many say they buffer needs to be 75 feet. Just that something extra needs to be there to ensure preservation of our wetlands. What are your thoughts about the citizen’s concerns about the state dragging their feet and that being the reason why a county ordinance is needed? Answer: Great question! This is a widespread real concern that many people have. None of us want to allow harm to the wetlands. I think the best way to answer your question is with a recent “real world” example. A few week ago, a complaint was called in about a Wakulla Citizen who was filling in wetlands on Shadeville Road, just south of Wakulla Springs. In less than 24 hours, I visited the site, unannounced, and found the following: a stop work order had been posted on site by the Wakulla County Planning Department, a staff member from the Wakulla Planning Department was onsite along with 4 State Inspectors from the Department of Environmental Protection and the North West Florida Water Management District. This clearly indicated that the State has the necessary resources and regulations to protect wetlands and is committed to enforcing these regulations. On the other side of this argument, I saw photos posted on Facebook of beavers in wetlands and excavation equipment filling in wetlands. These photos were posted with the announcement of this alleged “wetlands violation” even though the photos were taken somewhere else in the world. A concerned person would assume the photos were related to this incident and tend to be appalled. Unfortunately, this deception is not accidental, but it is the reason why good people are afraid to trust that the state is doing it’s job. Personally, when someone tries to deceive me for the benefit of furthering their agenda it’s not hard to come to the conclusion that I need to do the...

Quick Fact – Did you know the State regulates almost all changes to the landscape that affect surface water flows?...

Quick Fact – Did you know the State regulates almost all changes to the landscape that affect surface water flows?
You have been told that the State of Florida does not protect wetlands.  That is simply not true!  The State regulates “almost all changes to the landscape that affect surface water flows“. Did you know, even if a property contains no wetlands, it is still subject to State Wetlands Permitting if changes to the landscape will impact other properties?  This is more stringent than the proposed local ordinance and this State Wetlands Protection is already in place. A yes vote on Referendum A will add additional layers of Government Regulation. If a Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance is adopted, it can only be changed by a unanimous vote of all County Commissions or by another referendum of Wakulla County Voters. 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 with everyone you know, by Facebook, email, and personal conversations. Also leave a comment below and share your thoughts. Click the image below to enlarge it or Click Here to visit the State Department of Environmental Protection...

THEY ARE NOT FOOLING ME!

THEY ARE NOT FOOLING ME!
Follow me closely on this one.  Tell me if this makes sense to you. The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance wants you to vote to impose a wetlands ordinance on the citizens of Wakulla County.   Their proposed ordinance states: Sec. 32.003 (7) “It is intended that the implementation of this chapter will accomplish the following objectives: c. Ensure that owners of property containing wetlands and other surface waters shall not be unconstitutionally deprived of substantially all beneficial use of their property by the application of these regulations. That sounds great right?  They are acknowledging the Constitution and their statement appears to be concerned with protecting the rights of property owners.  Let’s take a closer look to see if they really mean this. The proposed ordinance goes on to say…  The Wakulla County Board of County Commissioners may grant a variance for the following: (1) The development of residential and non-residential properties within Buffer Zone Two if a failure to allow such development will deprive the developer of substantially all economic and beneficial use of the property, and so long as such development is consistent with other provisions of the Wakulla County Code of Ordinances, the Land Development Code, and the comprehensive plan. Stills sounds pretty good right?  Sounds like they really do not want to “deprive the developer of substantially all economic and beneficial use of the property”, right? Take a closer look.  This variance only applies to Buffer Zone Two.  Buffer Zone Two is 35 feet to 75 feet outside the wetlands.   What happens if the lot size requires the home to be built in Buffer Zone One?  Buffer Zone One is also outside the wetlands, 0 to 35 feet outside the wetlands.  The proposed ordinance will not allow a variance in Buffer Zone One.   If a proposed home will only fit on a property if allowed to be built within Buffer Zone One, and the proposed ordinance has no provision to grant a variance within Buffer Zone One, can’t we conclude that the property owner will be “unconstitutionally deprived of substantially all beneficial use of their property”? Remember the intent of the proposed ordinance? Sec. 32.003 (7) “It is intended that the implementation of this chapter will accomplish the following objectives: c. Ensure that owners of property containing wetlands and other surface waters shall not be unconstitutionally deprived of substantially all...

MOW NO MO?

MOW NO MO?
Do you think it’s acceptable for your neighbors or the Government to tell you that you are forbidden to mow your yard and maintain your landscaping? Will you vote to take away your neighbors ability to landscape and maintain his yard? Do you want that much Government control over private property? The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance wants you to control your neighbor’s property.  (If your neighbor is not free to control his own property, are you free to control yours?) In November, they are hoping that you vote to impose this control over your neighbors.  Their proposed ordinance includes the following statement: “…the following uses shall be permitted provided they do not have an adverse impact on the wetland or other surface water or the buffer. …Buffer Zone Two: a. Landscaping and yard maintenance activities within an area not to exceed 25 feet in the front, 15 feet in the back, and eight feet on either side of the principal building located on such property and in a manner consistent with the design standards set forth in section 32.010 of this chapter.” So, what does this mean?  Simply stated… In the wetlands – No maintenance or landscaping is permitted! Within Buffer Zone One (35 feet outside of the wetlands) – No maintenance or landscaping is permitted!  That means no mowing, no planting, no weed control, nothing can be done in that area, even though it is outside of the wetlands area. Within Buffer Zone Two (Between 35 feet and 75 feet outside of the wetlands) – Maintenance is allowed 25 feet in front of the home, 15 feet in the back of the home, and eight feet on either side.  Grab your tape measure and measure how much lawn you are maintaining around your home.  How would you like it if you were limited to eight feet?  Don’t forget, we are talking about 75 feet outside of the wetlands, not within the wetlands.  Also, refer back to the proposed language in blue above.  Notice the use of the words “principal building”?  Don’t miss this point.  Within 75 feet of wetlands, no maintenance is allowed around any building that is not the principal building.  If you have a shed, barn, or detached garage, how would you like it if you were forbidden to mow around it? This risk I described above has already...

WHO’S BINDING WHOM?

WHO’S BINDING WHOM?
Would you vote to adopt a local Wetlands Ordinance that contained the following statement? “In the event that the planning department issues a wetlands and other surface waters preliminary letter which includes an incorrect determination, the county shall not be bound by this determination if additional information received subsequent to the date of the letter reveals that wetlands or other surface waters are likely to exist.” Do you think it is acceptable to proclaim by ordinance, “The county shall not be bound” after the county makes a mistake and issues an incorrect determination? What if this property belonged to you or your family and you built your home exactly as the county told you to, and then you learned they made a mistake. Guess who will become bound if the county is not allowed to be bound? FYI, the statement above is in the proposed ordinance the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance wants you to adopt in November, Sec. 32.006 (b) (4). This risk has already been eliminated.  A yes vote will bring it back.  If it comes back, it can only be changed by a unanimous vote of all County Commissions or by referendum of Wakulla County Voters.  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 with everyone you know, by Facebook, email, and personal conversations. Also leave a comment below and share your thoughts....

Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance Repealed!

Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance Repealed!
 On July 14, 2014, I voted with 3 of 4 of my fellow Commissioners to repeal the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance. With our vote, we restored fairness, restored property rights and eliminated the risk of lawsuits for our tax payers. In November, the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance will ask you to vote to bring the ordinance back, to return to a double standard that divides the “haves” from the “have nots”. The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance wants you to vote to give government control over private property. They want you to vote to bring back the risk of lawsuits to tax payers. They want to eliminate your property rights. They do not want you to have what they have. Watch this video to see the the discussion at the Board Meeting.  Vote NO in...

Playing by the “Rules”?

Playing by the “Rules”?
There is currently a battle in progress in Wakulla County.  Contrary to what some would have us believe, it is not a battle between those who love the wetlands and those who don’t.  We all love our wetlands and all of our natural resources.  The battle that currently rages in Wakulla County is between those who believe in property rights and freedom, on one side, and on the other, a group of Radicals who believe their agenda gives them the right to control the rest of us.   In the 1970’s, Community Organizer Saul Alinsky wrote a book called “Rules for Radicals”.  Mr. Alinsky’s rules are in full play by those who wish to take away your rights.  We saw an example of this in the Wakulla News this week. RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. Below, you will find a letter that appeared in response to a letter that I wrote last week.  Then you will find my letter.  As you read the response, notice how the writer attempts to ridicule me with irrational statements that are fabricated and are unrelated to my comments.  I think you will agree that the writer is unable to present a defense for his statements.  They are certainly irrational!  Fortunately, they are not infuriating, because I see through his shallow attempt to ridicule me, and I think you will too! Thomas’ math is flawed Commissioner Ralph Thomas’ letter, “Math shows wetlands issue raises taxes” in the June 19 issue of The Wakulla News is an attempt to impeach the goals of the Wakulla Wetland Alliance. Thomas’ attempt fails because it is based on numerous fallacies and outright mistakes. Thomas uses the term buffers extremely loosely and makes no distinction between what can and cannot be done in the two types of wetland buffers in our county’s wetland ordinance. The buffer immediately surrounding the wetlands is 35-feet wide and, with some exceptions, is to be left in a natural state, while the second buffer is 40-feet wide and can be used for some development. His assertion that both buffer zones are “unusable” is false. The ordinance allows a large number uses in both buffer zones, too many to completely...

You Have the Right to Vote to Protect Property Rights!...

The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has Met the Signature Requirement! Citizens Can Now Vote to Protect Their Property Rights in November. As many of you know the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has successfully collected the required number of signatures for citizens to have the opportunity to vote for local property rights protections this November. A No Vote is a vote for: Less government regulations Decreased financial risk to Wakulla tax payers Restored Property Rights Restored Individual Freedom A yes Vote is a vote for: More government regulations Increase financial risk to Wakulla tax payers A loss of property rights A loss of the individual freedom that is guaranteed by the United States Constitution  I am sure you will find this short article from the Tallahassee Democrat interesting, especially comments from those who are opposed to freedom and want the government to take away your rights. Here’s a link to the Tallahassee Democrat‘s story –...

Wetlands: A look at both sides of the issue...

Wetlands: A look at both sides of the issue
  The Wakulla News Wednesday, January 8, 2014 By AMANDA MAYOR amayor@thewakullanews.net Editor’s Note: In an effort to represent both sides of the wetlands issue, The News sat down with an advocate for each side, Chad Hanson and Commissioner Ralph Thomas. “The thing is, the stuff that I do on my property…it still affects other people.  If I dump oil on my land, it’s going to affect others and the environment.” Chad Hanson is an environmental advocate for a non-profit company where he does a lot of work with fisheries and the sustainability in the Gulf. Hanson, who lives along the Wakulla River in the Mysterious Waters neighborhood, was part of the original Concerned Citizens of Wakulla group in the early 2000’s and has long been a close follower of the county’s wetlands issues. Hanson is a strong supporter of keeping development projects out of wetlands areas. “We need to find a balance between protecting the environment and protecting a person’s individual freedoms.” Ralph Thomas is vice-chairman of the Board of County Commissioners and a major proponent in advocating for the rights of property owners when it comes to current wetlands issues.  Commissioner  Thomas feels it is his job as a politician in a representative form of government to provide a voice for those who stand in smaller numbers. He acknowledges the need for environmental protections and said that he greatly respects those that are passionate about them, but that a balance is needed between rights and protections. In order to get to the crux of their argument, both Hanson and Thomas were asked to try to look at the issue of wetlands protections from the other sides’ point of view and then explain what exactly it is that they don’t agree with.  “They want people to be able to use the property that they bought and own,” Hanson said. “But there’s a disconnect there. The thing is, the stuff that I do on my property – yeah, it’s mine – but it still affects other people. If I dump oil on my land, it’s going to affect others and the environment.”  Hanson said he understands the pull for individual property rights and that commissioners don’t want to infringe on those, but that government has a role.  “They set the framework and infrastructure and are responsible for the greater good and for...

The Big Picture?

The Big Picture?
On November 22, 2013, Commissioner Kessler published a blog post that included a letter from Wakulla Wetlands Alliance Treasurer, Mr. James Hennessey.  In Commissioner Kessler’s blog, he invited the citizens of Wakulla County to “Look at the Big Picture”.  Below, you will find a link to Commissioner’s Kessler’s blog.  If you haven’t seen it already, I encourage you to read it.  After you have considered Commissioner’s Kessler’s “Big Picture”, come back here and let’s zoom in on the Big Picture and take a closer look at the fine details.  To view Commissioner’s Kessler’s blog Click Here. Welcome back.  There are many issues that I could respond to in Commissioner’s Kessler’s post.  I will focus on just one statement made by Mr. Hennessey… “And while you have been informed by the county attorney that there have been no successful suits of the county based on a ‘taking” with the current ordinances, you may be setting up the county for that cost in the future by going ahead with the elimination of the protections provided by the comp plan and related ordinances, rather than simply amending them to deal with any clear issues of unfairness.” All 5 Commissioners received an email from the County Attorney on October 17, 2013, regarding suits against the county that relate to a “taking”.  This email is a matter of public record, available to anyone who wants to see it.  Mr. Hennessey, through Commissioner’s Kessler’s blog, said there have been no successful suits of the county based on a taking.  Read the email yourself and see if you agree with Mr. Hennessey’s statement.  Click Here. Remember, the County Attorney’s email went to all 5 Commissioners and she acknowledged in the email that she had spoken to each of us prior to sending the email.  After seeing this, you may think, maybe Mr. Hennessey was not aware of the “taking” settlement, when he wrote his letter.  Let’s zoom in on the “Big Picture” a little closer.  On January 12, 2009, Mr. Hennessey sent an email to Commissioner Kessler regarding the owners of Log Creek LLC.  I will refrain from inserting my personal opinion regarding Mr. Hennessey’s email and let you read it for yourself.  Click Here. On October 16, 2009, Log Creek LLC entered a suit in the Second Judicial Court of Florida against Howard Kessler, James E Hennessey, M...

Protect Your Rights!

Protect Your Rights!
The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has adopted the message, “You Have the Right to Vote”. I agree with them.  You do have the right to vote! Yes, you read that correctly, I agree with the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance.  You do have the right to vote.  You may be wondering, how can that be?  The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance is telling us, 4 Commissioners are trying to take away our right to vote. So, how can I agree with them? Quite simply, it’s a fact that you have the right to vote.  No one is trying to take away that right, but there are a couple more concepts that I think you should consider before you sign your rights over to the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance. 1. Is the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance telling you the entire story? 2. Have you considered the other side of the story before you give the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance your signature on their petition? 3. Is the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance Protecting all of your rights? Consider this… The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance wants you to sign their petition and they want you to vote to impose restrictive regulations on private property.  You have that right, right?  After all, restricting the property rights of others is acceptable when we can be assured that it is for the greater good of the public, right? It sounds good and it seems to be accurate, but is the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance telling us the entire story?  Are they using one right to take away another right? Let’s take a closer look. The 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution address several rights.  I will explore just one.  It says, “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation“ While it’s true that the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance is not calling for private property to be physically taken from our citizens, they are asking you to vote to take away the right for property owners to control their property.  When you lose the right to control your property, it has been legislatively taken away from you.  Even in examples that appear to be for the greater good of the public, you have a Constitutional right that guarantees your property will not be taken for public use, without just compensation.  It’s right there, in the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution. I’m sure you will agree that the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance is...

Decide For Yourself!

Decide For Yourself!
The following email was sent to all County Commissioners and the County Attorney this morning by a member of the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance.  This email is a matter of public record.  At the end of this email, I will share videos of the event this gentleman is referring to.  I invite you to take a look and decide for yourself! Date: November 8, 2013 To: The Board of County Commissioners and Heather Encinosa, County Attorney I am contacting all of you to register a formal complaint about the manner in which this past Monday’s Commission meeting was conducted.  While I think we can all accept that there can be strong differences of opinion on specific issues, I was taken aback that Commissioner Ralph Thomas would engage in gratuitous personal attacks on me and other members of a non-partisan, all-volunteer citizen’s group. His calling us hypocrites was defamatory and using a public meeting for these attacks strikes me as not only unethical, but also an abuse of his power as a public official. The use of a power point presentation in doing this was clear evidence that this was not a momentary lapse of judgment, but a premeditated attempt to discredit citizens whose taxes go to pay his salary and who have a right to expect honesty and common decency from their commissioners. In addition, it was a cowardly act in that he knew that there would be no opportunity for those citizens he was maligning to challenge the factual bases of his presentation.  Rather than present persuasive evidence of the wisdom of eliminating buffers and local protection of wetlands, his goal appeared to be to create division and conflict among the citizenry and distract them from the substantive issues involved.  I also believe that Chairman Merritt was negligent in not redirecting Mr. Thomas’s presentation once the inflammatory and personal nature of it was evident. Commissioner’s Thomas’s showing of aerial photographs of our properties in comparison to the others was deliberately misleading and disingenuous in leaving out the historical context of the development of these properties.  He and the other commissioners know full well that much of the development in this county in the past was done without full knowledge of the environmental consequences and would not and should not be allowed today. That does not mean that we should tear down...

Hypocrite?

Hypocrite?
Click on the vidoe at the end of the post. Is it just me?  Do you find Mr. Hennessey's position hypocritical?  He doesn't want you, or anyone else, to build near the wetlands. He built his house near the wetlands. He thinks a larger buffer zone would obviously provides greater protection to wetlands. He didn't build his house with the maximum buffer zone that his property would allow.  He doesn't want you to impact his oysters. He built a doc that is more than 480 feet long across those oyster beds. He is the treasurer of the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance. He is not a new comer to the scene of the wetlands battle.  He was involved in a previous Wakulla Wetlands lawsuit, that was settled by our insurance company for $200,000. He gets to unwind at the end of day with an unspoiled view of the gulf with the warm salty breeze blowing through his golden wispy locks of hair.  He says you should have the right to vote.  He wants you to vote to make sure no one else can have what he has. Will you sign his petition? Will you let him take away your freedom, for his enjoyment?...

The Truth They Were Hoping Wouldn’t Come Out!...

The Truth They Were Hoping Wouldn’t Come Out!
At the Board of County Commissioners meeting last night, I pointed out that property owners simply want to use their land just like members of the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance are able to do.  I compared properties of a few of our citizens to properties of members of the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance to point out what I believe is blatant hypocrisy.  The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance is pushing a petition to convince people they have the right to vote to ultimately place restrictions on the private property of other citizens.  They say they are doing this because the wetlands are important and should be protected from development.  Take a look at the photos below and decide for yourself if these folks are truly concerned about development in or near wetlands.  Note, I was very careful to point out that I was not accusing any of the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance members of any wrong doing.  These photos are presented under the assumption that everything was properly permitted or properly exempt.  My intent was to point out that they were able to utilize their private property in a manner they desired.  I am simply asking that everyone have the same ability to use their property, as they wish, just like the members of the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance. Decide for yourself! Both of these properties are located in Spring Creek.  Mr. Linder has been told that he can not build a home on his property.  The proposed home will not be built in the wetlands.  In an attempt to comply with the current wetlands ordinance, he is proposing a home with a very small footprint.  The bottom floor will only be 700 square feet and will be on pilings.  Even with this modest footprint, and proposed construction that will not be in the wetlands, the Wakulla Wetlands ordinance forbids him from using his property. Mr. Hennessey enjoys a beautiful home built across the creek from Mr. Linder's property.  I am not a wetlands expert and I am not qualified to perform wetlands delineation, but with my layman's ability, when I use the measure feature on the property appraiser's website, it appears to me that Mr. Hennessey's home is built less 75 feet from the apparent wetlands.  We keep hearing from these folks that a larger buffer is obviously better to ensure adequate protection of the wetlands.  I...

Please Visit The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance!...

Please Visit The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance!
The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has taken a position that is completely opposite from my position, on the wetlands in Wakulla County.  I am confident that good people make good decisions when given the truth.  For that reason, I am encouraging everyone to visit their websites and learn everything you can about their position. I will admit, their message is clear.  Their execution is beautiful.  Their photographs are stunning and they have managed to capture images that reflect the beauty of our county.  But, are they telling us everything?  Think about this.  In a court of law, it is not acceptable to just tell the truth.  We are required to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  If we leave out one of these three, the truth has not been properly represented. Before you visit their beautiful websites, I would like to give you something to think about.  Take a close look at this photo. You will not find this photo on either of their websites.  This property is located at Shell Point.  As you can see, it is surrounded by water on three sides.  Just imagine the views it must have.  Imagine the sunsets and sunrises that must be enjoyed from this home.  It is quite possible that many of the beautiful photos that you will see on the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance websites were actually taken from this property.  Now think about this.  This home was built on a formerly beautiful salt marsh.  See those canals.  They are man made.  The marsh was dredged (dug out) and the sand was used to fill in the parcel of land that now supports this coastal home.  Do you see that sea wall?  I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that is not natural.  Someone built that wall and filled it in with the sand that was dredged from the formerly pristine salt marsh.  Oh, one more thing.  That home has a septic tank.  It is not connected to a waste treatment facility.  It has a regular old septic tank.  The lot is approximately 90 feet wide and 200 feet long.  That doesn’t leave a lot of room for a septic tank does it?  Remember, this home is surrounded by water on three sides.  The human waste that is generated in this home goes directly into the ground, and look how...

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