Must-read: Support Comp Plan Amendments on Tuesday

Maggy Hurchalla, nationally renowned five-term Martin County Commissioner

[Nationally renowned environmental expert and five-term Martin County Commissioner Maggy Hurchalla knows that Martin County residents clearly feel strongly about preserving our quality of life, preserving our environment, improving our economy and practicing fiscal restraint.]

Aug. 13 is the final adoption hearing for amendments to take back our comprehensive plan.

Can we do it? Some of the best land use lawyers and planners in the state have said, “Yes.” The county attorney says, “Yes.” The growth management staff recommends adoption.

Should we do it? That decision belongs to the residents of Martin County.

Last summer residents were frightened by what felt like a free-for-all for developers.

It became clear that the rules we thought were part of the comprehensive plan had been deleted and diluted:

The amendment process was confusing.

The overall goals that protect us were taken out of Chapter 2.

The standards for changing the Plan were vague.

Last year’s election seemed to say pretty clearly that we wanted our county back.

Right after the August primary election we started to talk about how we could amend chapters 1 and 2 to take back what we thought we had — a county that was people friendly, environmentally friendly, business friendly and taxpayer friendly.

On Sept. 5 we held the first public meeting on how to amend chapters 1 and 2 to put back into the comp plan the things that make Martin County special. Since then there have been eight more public meetings to go over the proposals and make things better.

The amendments make policies clear and consistent so residents and developers know what to expect. They put our overall goals back into Chapter 2. They require a 4-1 vote to weaken those special policies that make us special.

There has been overwhelming support for the amendments. Hundreds of people have come to meetings and sent emails.

There is opposition.

Much of it stems from misunderstandings. People have been told they can’t have a pool in their front yard because of the amendments. Marina owners have been told they can’t repave their parking lots. Neither of those things is true.

You can decide for yourself. You can go to the website, martincompplan.com, and find out what the amendment says. You can read the letters opposing it and see if you agree or disagree. You can go to the county’s growth management website and read the staff recommendation and the hundreds of emails in support of the amendment. You can email me at maggycplan@gmail.com and get answers to your questions.

The major opposition is coming from owners of large agricultural tracts outside the urban boundary: Big Sugar, Big City (Hobe Groves), Big Rockpit (George Lindemann Jr.’s Lakepoint Mine) and King Ranch.

Their out-of-town lawyers have sent threatening letters to the commission telling them that it is illegal and improper to protect and restore the St. Lucie River and to include in the plan policies that protect our quality of life.

The letters reiterate the belief that Martin County cannot protect its water resources — because that is the job of the federal government, the state and the South Florida Water Management District.

It’s hard to accept that as we watch the dirty water pouring out the St. Lucie River.

It’s hard to accept the suggestion that taking care of the quality of life of the people who live here is not the key goal for the comprehensive plan.

It’s hard to believe the lawyers who tell us we can’t do these things when we have been doing them for 30 years.

We can keep Martin County a good place to live.

We should adopt the amendments.

Come to the meeting Aug. 13 and let the world know that Martin is different. We have been different. We’re going to stay different.

Let the world know we are determined to protect our residents and our natural resources within the limits of the law, and to the extent that the law allows.

Before Tuesday, let your commissioners know that you support CPA 13-5 amending Chapters 1, 2 and 4 of our Comprehensive Plan.

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