Tuesday’s BCC: Restore river, environment, quality of life protections

From Ginny Sherlock, renowned local attorney, civic activist, and former Associated Press editor: The Martin County Board of County Commissioners will consider adopting a “remedial amendment” to our Comprehensive Plan on Tuesday to restore protections for our river, our environment and our quality of life that were removed in a 2009 overhaul of the Plan by the now defunct “Future Group.”  The BCC also will  consider a proposal to move the Martin County Fairgrounds to property outside the Urban Services District and a request to initiate a Comp Plan Amendment for an out-of-state private company that wants to build a biomass plant in Indiantown. 
 
The Comp Plan Amendment that must be adopted to allow a previously approved Amendment to Chapters 1, 2 and 4 to become effective will be heard at 11:00 a.m. as Agenda Item 6C.  The BCC must make three specific changes to the Amendment that restored overall goals and specific policies that protect our river, environment and quality of life to comply with an Administration Commission order that approved the rest of the Amendment’s critically important provisions.  For more detailed information, see Maggy Hurchalla’s call to action at the end of this e-mail and either attend Tuesday’s meeting or send an e-mail to the Commission in support of Item 6C.
 
Agenda Item 8A4 is a facility and property analysis update to the CBRE report commissioned by the BCC to evaluate County-owned and leased properties.  Staff is making separate presentations on various aspects of the report, including the potential sale of some County-owned property.  That presentation was scheduled for the last meeting but was continued to May 31. At Tuesday’s meeting, staff will ask whether the BCC wants to move the Martin County Fairgrounds, and, if so, whether the County should acquire a larger parcel for the private Fair Association to expand the Fair to include events like monster truck games and whether the Urban Services Boundary should be moved to allow public utilities to be extended to a proposed parcel which is outside the existing USD.  The item is pre-set for 9:30 a.m.
 
Another pre-set is Item 8D2 scheduled for 1:45 p.m. to consider US EcoGen’s request that the BCC initiate Comprehensive Plan amendments that are required before the company can build a biomass plant in Indiantown.  The request was first made during a March 22 presentation at the invitation of Commissioner John Haddox, after which the Commission declined to initiate a Plan amendment. During the public comment portion of the May 10 meeting, US EcoGen renewed its request, and the Commission directed staff to bring the matter forward on Tuesday.  The company wants the County to initiate Plan amendments that would change the Future Land Use Map to allow construction of the biomass plant on land now designated for agricultural use and to change the text of the Plan to include private companies like US EcoGen in the definition of “major public power generation sites.”  US EcoGen seeks a County-initiated amendment to truncate the application review and approval process in order to meet a deadline imposed by a private power purchase agreement between the company and Florida Power and Light, setting a questionable precedent.  Attempts to compare the US EcoGen proposal with County-initiated amendments for the LAGS or Beau Rivage neighborhoods are not well-founded.  Those amendments were many months in development, not hastily rushed through, and were for the benefit of local residents seeking protection for their homes rather than financial gain for private businesses.
 
NOTE TO BCC: How about giving Martin County residents the same attention and benefits you are giving an out-of-state private company that is asking for special treatment to change the Comprehensive Plan that residents rely upon to protect their quality of life? For months, residents have pleaded with you to review the Langford Landing disaster. For months, residents have begged you to explain why staff authorized construction of a huge free-standing garage in Hobe Hills  using a wetlands waiver that was approved for a single-family home.  For months, residents have asked you to address their concerns about alleged violations of the rules at the RaceTrac development on Kanner Highway.  How can you turn your backs on these residents and ignore their requests while giving US EcoGen an immediate hearing on a request that was made during public comment less than two weeks ago?
 
The BCC will consider two items related to All Aboard Florida on Tuesday: Item 7B, pre-set at 3:00 p.m., is a presentation on Quiet Zones, Sealed Corridors and Public Safety issues related to the passenger rail system planned from Miami to Orlando, with no stops on the Treasure Coast.  And Item 8A3 is a request for approval of a year-long $12,000-a-month contract with the Gray Robinson law firm in Tallahassee to provide the County with lobbying and public relations services related to the AAF project.
 
In other matters on Tuesday’s BCC agenda:
 
– Approval is sought for the plat of a 12-lot subdivision in Palm City called Loggerhead (Agenda Item 8D1)
 
– The request by Port Mayaca Investments to complete required infrastructure for the Port Mayaca Plantation Phase I, which has been continued from numerous prior agendas over the past few months, is again set to be continued, this time until May 31 (Agenda Item 8C2)
 
– Property owners are seeking a re-zoning from WE-1 to RE-1/2-A for waterfront property on St. Lucie Boulevard (Agenda Item 6B)
 
– Approval is being sought for contracts for Special Code Enforcement Magistrate Paul Nicoletti and for alternate and back-up magistrates Wendy Werb and William Toohey (Item 8B1)
 
Please let Commissioners know how you feel about these and other issues by attending the meeting beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday or by e-mailing them atsheard@martin.fl.usefieldin@martin.fl.usascott@martin.fl.usjhaddox@martin.fl.us, and dsmith@martin.fl.us, with copies to the County Administrator and County Attorney at tkryzda@martin.fl.us and mdurham@martin.fl.us.

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