The long-awaited meeting requested by OSFR with the county to discuss change for the land use regulations finally took place on Tues. March 22 at the Fort White library. A large group attended and among them was Ben Scott, Columbia County Administrator who offered valuable advice for the group.
Mr. Scott had asked Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson to be the principal spokesperson for the group, if mainly to avoid repetition and emotional vents. The goal of this project is not to vent over the chicken farm, which has already happened, but to change land use to prevent further examples of the same.
Merrillee, able leader as always, synthesized the issues as follows, into roughly 6 items as follows:
to protect our sole source of water supply and to protect our springs and rivers as they add significant value to communities through quality of life (property values), recreation/tourism, conservation and preservation; land use needs to be changed on top of the high recharge areas of the Florida Aquifer, please see map taken for the Future Land Use Element (located at the bottom of the opened link) in the Columbia County website.
define animal threshold in AG-3 zoning (how many animals per acre is acceptable?) There is a discrepancy between federal standard and state standard that defines CAFO. Create our own value on top of the high recharge for the Floridan aquifer.
require a special exception for posting purposes to inform neighbors of land use changes How much changes in land use would trigger a special exception? For instance, from fallow lands to intensive agricultural or timber to animal husbandry. This special exception would be to have citizen engagement to protect their rural nature, property values, and drinking water supply. Also a posting would protect recreational, conservation, tourism uses in riversheds and springsheds.
Redefine “intensive” in the language of these rules and codes.
Change waste and wastewater requirement. As it stands today, the county relies on the DEP to issue (or not, in our case) permits for waste or wastewater and that is the pivotal mechanism to allow or not an intensive agri-business from entering AG-3 zoned neighborhood.
Design this ordinance so that county has control over its own authority. (impose home rule)
The workshop is on Tuesday, March 29th at 9 am at the School Board Building on HWY 90 in Lake City. It is open to the public, and protocol dictates that usually there is no public input other than invited speakers, such as Merrillee, our spokesperson. However, Mr. Scott made it clear that input from all sides is desired, and that if someone feels that OSFR has not addressed his/her ideas, it is very likely that public comments will be entertained as long as they are not repetitive.
This is the beginning of this process to change AG-3 zoning, we hope there will still be opportunities for public comment involvement, before it goes to the BOCC for vote.
And when it goes to the BOCC for a vote you are able to comment at that time too.
link to Columbia County Comp Plan and LDR’s:
This is key to what we need to change,
Future Land Use Element: