Tonight at 9:30 on North Florida Writer Live we're going to talk about land development. To be more specific, we'll be talking about the Plum Creek corporate plan for selling a large section of rural Alachua County, Florida for development.
The large timber company and real estate investment trust wants approval to rezone a huge swath of this land which is largely wet and/or swampy for use in development at the highest density category. They bought it cheap and now they want to sell it high despite the adverse consequences which are sure to follow from the lay of the land.
I am very familiar with the situation since I live right "where the action is" and have been involved in the fight to modify the original plans for the development. Development is not the problem, the type of development and its potential destruction of a way of life, the rich natural environs and the water supply certainly is and the project is just one of many huge similar endeavors currently proposed in Florida. Florida is fragile and our natural springs and aquifer are facing dramatic stress which, if we continue the way we are going, will result in another California situation. And just like California which did nothing to prepare for its future, Florida is operating in a similar fashion.
No one in state government will do anything to address the growing water issues, they just give lip service while they continue on down the road to make the same mistakes that was made in the early years when Miami was built on a swamp. In reality, our elected leaders have played a large part in letting this continue, recently modifying a large number of laws to make it easier for developers, all at the cost of the taxpayers who never get a real break.
Having taken the time to testify before a number of committees during the state legislative session this past spring, I was amazed about the tone deaf and sometimes actually hostile reception that citizens taking the time to make the trip received from their elected officials. To be fair, there were a few who were very courteous and helpful, but they were a mere handful.
The Plum Creek issue is a battle that has been waged locally for several years and is now about ready to come to a boil. Plum Creek has submitted a revised concept which, quite frankly, looks like a band aid on a severed artery. But we'll talk about it with one of the leaders of a group called Stand by Our Plan (SBOP), Scott Camil, a former Vietnam combat Marine who suffered from his wartime experience and who has worked tirelessly to inform residents of what is about to take place.
I felt it important to use my show as a medium for discussion since the landowner is a major corporation working closely with the Chamber of Commerce to influence the process in the political arena and has tried to completely ignore the issues of those who will be adversely impacted. The small landowners and the taxpayers in the area will be the ones hurt the most and even though we have the right to vote, we generally know that in politics money wins the game. It works the same way locally to a large degree as it does in Washington and neither system is very good.
No matter where you live in the country, issues such as this one are always on the local docket, so it might be a good idea to listen in and see what you can learn. You never what you might face in the future. You know, we Americans have been blessed with a beautiful land but, sadly, we haven't always done a very good job with it. Maybe it's time to try a different approach.
Here's the link for tonight's show. Just paste it into your browser: