From Ginny Sherlock, renowned local attorney, civic activist, and former Associated Press editor: Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyck has issued a Recommended Order finding the Comprehensive Plan Amendment to the sewer element of the Martin County Comp Plan “in compliance” with state law. The ALJ rejected the challenge filed by Martin Land Co. (originally joined by ag interests and other western landowners) and recommended that the Department of Economic Opportunity approve the amendment because:
1. Martin Land Co. failed to prove beyond fair debate that elimination of the Expressway Oriented Transient Commercial Service Center overlay was not supported by adequate data and analysis;
2. Martin Land Co. failed to prove beyond fair debate that returning to the 2,000-gallon-per-day maximum septic flow limit (rather than the 10,000-gallon-a-day limit authorized by the state) will not achieve the County’s goal of protecting ground and surface waters from nitrogen loading; and
3. Martin Land Co. failed to prove beyond fair debate that the Amendment violates state law requiring a balance of uses to foster vibrant, viable communities and economic development opportunities or that the Amendment creates internal inconsistencies within the Plan.
Martin Land Co. can file “exceptions” (objections) to the ALJ’s Recommended Order, after which the Department of Economic Opportunity will issue a Final Order, which should occur within 30-45 days, and the Amendment will become effective at that time (assuming the Final Order adopts the Recommended Order).
Thanks to Maggy Hurchalla for leading the charge in support of this amendment, which, as Maggy says, “gets rid of the albatross of Expressway Commercial which otherwise would continue to attact variations on Extreme Water Sports” and which “puts the septic tank rules back in the Comp Plan.”