Tuesday’s BCC has latest episode in ‘As the Sewage Flows’

From Ginny Sherlock, renowned local attorney, civic activist, and former Associated Press editor: Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting will feature a vote on a proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment that would more than double the maximum capacity allowed for commercial on-site sewage systems and authorize extension of public utility lines far outside the urban boundary.

Agenda Item 6C is a “transmittal hearing” for CPA 17-10, which threatens the integrity of the urban services boundary and authorizes higher capacity septic systems throughout Martin County.  The Commission will decide Tuesday whether to transmit the amendment to Tallahassee for review and comment by various state agencies.  It will return for a final vote by the BCC in July or August.
The proposal has been revised after hearings before the Local Planning Agency and a BCC workshop which drew public comment from many residents who expressed opposition to increasing septic capacity from the current 2,000 gallons-a-day limit to 5,000 gallons-per-day for commercial properties and extending public utility lines outside the urban boundaries.
Commissioners are being asked to allow extension of water and sewer lines to a few selected developments outside the urban district (Seven J’s Industrial Subdivision, Martingale Commons, Tuscawilla, n/k/a Canopy Creek) while constituents inside the urban boundaries do not have access to utilities. 
Developer attorneys told the LPA their clients want to be able to hook up to public utilities or to install on-site septic systems — at their choice — by changing the Comp Plan to give “special” property owners options that many residents don’t have.  Extension of utility lines outside the urban district is not a mandate to hook up. Those “special” property owners will retain the ability to install over-sized septic systems if that’s the best option for their pocketbooks.
Extension of lines to some County-owned property, like the Sheriff’s shooting range and the landfill, will put infrastructure in place that will encourage more intense development outside the urban district.  While the urban boundaries would not be moved, the purpose of the boundaries — to contain urban services within the urban district — would be frustrated.
Another Comp Plan Amendment to be considered on Tuesday eliminates ownership disclosure requirements for individuals seeking Comp Plan amendments if interest in the subject property is owned by a minor, a publicly traded company, a mortgage lender, or a homeowner association.  Some tweaking of the proposed language was suggested by the LPA to provide that failure to disclose required ownership interests – whether deliberate or inadvertent – may delay processing an application until the error is corrected.  The Commission should follow the LPA’s unanimous recommendation on Agenda Item 6B.
Item 6A revises the Art in Public Places Ordinance, doing away with the Public Art Site Selection Advisory Board comprised of designers, architects, art professionals, educators and citizens with knowledge of and appreciation of the visial arts.  The revised ordinance gives members of the Community Redevelopment Agency authority to recommend locations for public art projects, making it unlikely public art projects will be placed outside designated CRAs.
Item 8C5 is a request by the Engineering Department for BCC direction on roadway needs.  The staff summary says: “Due to recent construction projects in Palm City, shifts in normal traffic patterns led to very high growth rates.  The application of these excessive growth rates result in unreasonably predicted volumes exceeding (roadway) capacities . . .”  In other words, as more intense development is approved, problems increase on local roadwas which cannot handle more traffic.
Ya think?
Engineering wants permission to seek grants and other funding for road improvements in Palm City and in the Cove Road area in Stuart.  
In a rare pre-set item, Dr. Edie Widder of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association will present research on pollution in the Indian River Lagoon in Agenda Item 7A at 2:30 p.m.  BCC Chair Doug Smith has generally eschewed pre-set times for hearings and presentations, despite requests from residents who are interested in participating but must work or attend to children or have other commitments that they would like to be able to schedule.  Prior commission chairs accommodated public interest and public participation by making an effort to schedule an approximate time for high-interest items.  But Commissioner Smith has declined to continue that effort, complaining that pre-set hearings and presentations interfere with his ability to control the agenda in a manner he believes is best for commissioners and staff – not for the public.
In other matters on Tuesday’s agenda:
– The Tourist Development Council seeks to allocate grant funding for three excellent facilities that help boost local tourism efforts – classroom and meeting space and parking for the U.S. Sailing Center ($345,000), a wildlife center and multi-use facility for the Treasure Coast Wildlife Center ($214,625), and a coastal center, advocacy and education center for the Florida Oceanographic Society ($525,000). Item 8A2.
– The Mariner Sands Planned Unit Development requests final site plan approval for a new pool, dining area and kitchen, new tennis pro shop and storage building.  Item 8D1.
– A resolution to increase maximum rates for recovery, towing, removal and storage of vehicles requested by the Sheriff’s Office or other law enforcement officer or a property owner. Rates have not been increased since 2005.  Item 8B1.
– A proposal to change the name of County conservation land known as the FDOT Parcel to Old Mapp Creek Preserve, reflecting the historical location at the headwaters of the creek. Item 8C1.
– An update to the County’s Water Quality Needs Assessment for a revised evaluation of the economic value of healthy water bodies and estimates of return on investment for County-funded projects to restore water quality.  Item 8C2.
– Renewal and extension of a 5-year lease for South Florida Karting, Inc., to continue using the old Hobe Sound Landfill as a go-kart race track.  Item 8C3.
  
Download or view all agenda items at:
Please attend the BCC meeting at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday in Commission Chambers, 2401 SE Monterey Road, Stuart, or let commissioners know how you feel about these and other issues by e-mailing sheard@martin.fl.us, efieldin@martin.fl.us, hjenkins@martin.fl.us, eciampi@martin.fl.us, and dsmith@martin.fl.us, with copies to the County Administrator and the County Attorney at tkryzda@martin.fl.us and swoods@martin.fl.us.

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