Why do I bring this up? The reason is quite simple. Here in North Florida small rural landowners are in the fight of their lives to retain a decent way of life in the midst of the big business and political lobbyist push to gobble up more and more of what's left of rural America. Large companies create real estate investment trusts (REITs), buy huge swaths of land and use it to generate revenue in a secondary way pending the right opportunity to sell.
And it's important to remember that the issue at hand is not a conservative, liberal or even a modern issue; it's an American issue. Here in North Florida the fight to save a portion of what we call Old Florida has been joined by people of all walks of life and all political philosophies. And it just goes to show that when we Americans find an issue with broad implications, it is not difficult to bring us together. Now all we have to do is convince the politicians, those who are so enamored with special interests and lobbyists who actually write most of the bills they are considered, to realize that we are the people they are supposed to represent.
Our local North Florida situation involves a large timber company which is organized as a REIT, harvesting trees in a huge land mass it bought from Georgia Pacific due to the cheap cost of the land. Most of it is in lowlands and watershed areas, with swamps, bogs and floodplains, areas which have been deemed by the local government in its Comprehensive Plan as unsuitable for any large scale development. At the present time only individual homes on five acre lots are allowed, providing that the land will perk for septic purposes.
But now the state legislature is considering major change to land planning, changing instead to a more visionary approach, meaning that detailed analysis of water needs and infrastructure costs are no longer critical to the owner or developer's tasks, this being left to the state and its regional arms, effectively shutting out the county government. Now in all fairness to the landowner, he has stated publicly that he is not pushing for this change, but it will nonetheless make his task much easier if enacted. Meanwhile his plan to resubmit his land use proposal has been delayed beyond the expected date, a factor which makes one question the accuracy of his stated position.
Look, folks, this is a very confusing issue, but it is highlighted today because it's not just here in North Florida, but happening all over the country and those of you who are in rural areas will ultimately also be under the gun, whether you are today or not. And development in areas with no infrastructure is costly, with developer responsibility generally only amounting to forty percent of that cost. Furthermore, property values either skyrocket or, if the project results in a housing glut, plummet, and the residents already there suffer the most, either from loss in value or rapid rise in tax assessments. And then, of course, there are the questions of the well running dry (a big problem here in Florida as our aquifer is stressing), natural life degradation and the impact of sound and light pollution, just to name a few.
My internet radio show yesterday on Conservative Report Radio (blogtalkradio.com) highlights this subject using the local North Florida example. If you are rural and love your lifestyle, you might want to listen to our discussion for it's coming to a county near you. Let's develop the land that's already approved for development first and limit new development to those areas that make sense with the lay of the land. If you really look at the land first, you'll know where it just doesn't make sense.
Here's the direct link to the show: http://tobtr.com/s/7470207. You might have to paste it into your browser to bring it up.
America's rural lands are beautiful and important. Let's save some of the best of what God gave us for those who love the country style of life and for our future. God bless you and God bless America.