You see, Plum Creek Timber, a large landholder with 65,000 acres adjacent to Hawthorne, has asked that the "city" annex a significant amount of their land. Plum Creek wants to do so because they haven't been able to meet the standards of Alachua County for mixed use development (the most dense category possible) and new Florida law would allow them to sidestep county rules by working directly with Hawthorne, a community so desperate for revenue that it will willingly allow a landowner to as it pleases with no guarantee of positive results. Furthermore, the land in question is home to rural folk who have no interest in being sidled with added property taxes and some of the highest utility rates in the state. The state has weighed in on Plum Creek and Hawthorne's side by nullifying the county's boundary adjustment act, thereby allowing the proposal without county involvement. The new laws were passed in this year's state legislature session, a rubber stamp for the Governor, who would be happy to see Florida paved from shining ocean to shining gulf.
Officials in Hawthorne claim no involvement in this effort although the current mayor is head of the county League of Cities group which favors taking all authority for development out of the hands of the county in cases of annexation. The mayor, Matt Surrency, claims he was only representing another town pushing the issue, yet the state change of law plays directly into the hands of a suspected linkage between Plum Creek and Hawthorne.
On this morning's special Saturday edition of North Florida Writer live, I will discuss this situation with Lori Wiggins, a native of the Hawthorne area who is extremely concerned about the future of the homeland area she loves. Lori has witnessed that lack of transparency and misleading answers to questions that she has posed to Hawthorne political leaders and Plum Creek supporters. Being personally knowledgeable of what she speaks about and also concerned about the area where I live, we will discuss the subject and see if we can't figure out just where it is headed and what can be done to open it up to full public disclosure.
The show can be reached at the following link: