ACTION ALERT: PLANNING MEETING BEFORE COUNTY LAND USE WORKSHOP Tues. Mar. 22

 

There will be a planning meeting on Tues. March 22 at 5:45 at the Fort White public library  (17700 S W St Hwy 47 Fort White FL 32038 .)  This is in preparation for the land use workshop with the county officials on Tues. March 29 in Lake City at 9 am.

Even though the chicken factory appears to be established, we want to take action to change the Ag-3 zoning to prevent any such similar fiasco from being built in the future.  This meeting in Fort White is open to anyone who has an interest in keeping our land use as rural residential and not CAFOs or industry.

For those who are concerned about allowing large intensive businesses on top of the high recharge for the Floridan Aquifer, in the springsheds and watersheds for the rivers in Columbia County, this meeting is for you.

Help us to get our message clear as to how we see AG-3 zoning changed in the Comprehensive Planning and Land Development Regulations for Columbia County.  Following is a brief background on what is happening at the moment.  Please read our objectives and bring some ideas to the meeting at Fort White.

Columbia County has finally agreed to give the citizens of Fort White a chance to review Comprehensive Plans and LDRs.   As  residents of Fort White and  land owners,  we want changes to those plans that govern our community land use that have direct impacts to our watersheds.

It is Our Santa Fe River’s protective intent that these changes will never, again, allow intensive polluting agriculture, or any polluting businesses for that matter, on top of high recharge areas of the Floridan Aquifer or in the SFR springsheds.
A simple solution to this big problem would be a posting to allow for public participation, objections or in favor of a “new” land use.

The problem Fort White faced with an intensive chicken CAFO being put half way between the Town of Fort White and the Santa Fe River is that there was NEVER a posting of the land use changes.

While this land was listed as AG-3 zoning in the Comp Plan, the fact is the land was fallow, timbered (and never replanted) years before the purchase of the new owners, and nearly 100% of the 77 acres of land use was changed to construct 12 football field sized poultry buildings,  There are at least 3 HOA in the vicinity and one of those is an abutting neighbor.

And very, very few neighbors, if any at all, knew anything about this “new” business until about 3 months into the project, after the land had been cleared, fill dirt brought in and construction material piled up waiting for workers.

Joel Foreman, the Columbia County attorney, told about 100 residents at a BOCC meeting that there was nothing the county could do to stop it because it was zoned AG-3. He said this at a public meeting, October, 2015, when only 2 of the barns were barely skeletal.

He read us the “Right To Farm Act” from his dais.

And that was that, Fort White and river and springs were screwed.

Already many long term residents have sold their homes for less than they wanted, fleeing from the future environmental health hazard.  Others have their homes on the market. What should have been the next high end property values for this neighborhood, close to town, walkable to schools, parks and down by the springs and rivers, is now intensive AG.
All of this on top of a known area of high recharge for the Floridan Aquifer, our sole source of drinking water for the entire state of Florida
Please offer some guidance on how to bring Columbia County into the 21st century and protect our culturally valued and recreational significant riversheds and springsheds.
link to Columbia County Comp Plan and LDR’s:
These are key items that OSFR would like addressed in the planning elements of the county for high recharge of the Florida Aquifer and springsheds.  Here are the majority of concerns that may need to be discussed for any changes to occur with AG-3 zoning the SFR basin.

1.   OBJECTIVES AND POLICIES FOR RURAL AREAS

Rural areas are those areas located outside the designated urban development areas shown on the County’s Future Land Use Plan Map.
OBJECTIVE I.2. The county shall maintain the rural character of rural areas by limiting development activity to those uses and densities which are identified within the following policies.

ARTICLE 6 – HIGH NATURAL GROUNDWATER AQUIFER RECHARGE AND POTABLE WATER WELL FIELD REGULATIONS

  • ARTICLE 12 – APPEALS, SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS, VARIANCES AND INTERPRETATIONS
  • Sec. 12.2. – Special exceptions.
6.   Sec. 4.4. – “ESA” environmentally sensitive areas.
7.   Sec. 4.5. – “A” Agricultural.

 

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