Board members Busscher, Peeler, Chair Jordan, Ruffo, Attorney Foreman, Planner Stubbs
Even though the final outcome is still uncertain, it looks like a few people last night (Tues. Nov. 15, 2016) made a difference for the river. During the course of a more-than-two-hour meeting of the Columbia County Planning & Zoning Board, reviewing an application for the development of the equestrian campground at River Rise Preserve just off Highway 27 near High Springs, the final vote killed the requested RV dumping station on the banks of the Santa Fe River.
It is unclear where this plan originated, but it appears that perhaps the DEP has decided that they can make money by building 20 RV campsites at the now designated “primitive” camp at River Rise Preserve.
Sierra Club Suwannee-St Johns Group Maryvonne Devensky Judy Kearney, environmentalist and nearby resident
The application was misleading and deceptive, because it claimed there was no need for an environmental analysis because nothing new was going to be added, only a few “amenities.” These so-called amenities included a new bathhouse, septics, an RV dump station, electricity concrete pads, a new road, a drainage ditch. Quite an infrastructure, indeed.
The preserve is in an area that Columbia County has zoned “Conservation Zone District” and “no use other than non-intensive resource based recreation activities and native vegetative community restoration shall be permitted.” Yet Tallahassee wants to develop this area on the banks of our Outstanding Waterway, on a river the state designates as impaired, in recovery, and which is already overloaded with nutrients, precisely because of bankside developments such as this.
So they sent out their team, one from Tampa and one from Tallahassee, which met with unexpected and strong resistance from the public, supported by two of the zoning board members. Chairman Jordan, helped by board member Ruffo, worked long and hard to get a compromise, such as moving the dump station back from the river, but the state-backed team would not budge one inch, repeating over and over words such as “standards,” “specifications,” “regulations,” and “budget.”
County Attorney Joel Foreman was quite helpful and had to explain to some of the board members what their options were, and what they could or could not do. Several motions were made and fizzled, and finally, in what seemed out of desperation, since the Tallahassee team was totally intransigent, board member Peeler moved to accept the application without the dump station, and all agreed except Chairman Jordan.
The applicant has the option to accept or re-apply with no time restrictions, and did not indicate what their plans might be.
Thanks go to environmental watchdog Dr. Colette Jacono for bringing this underhanded attempt at deception by our state protective agency to the public’s attention, and for speaking eloquently, clearly, descriptively and logically to the board.
Dr. Jacono also brought a friend, Judy Kearney, who ably defended the river. Sierra Club representatives Maryvonne Devensky and Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson spoke also, as did your OSFR historian.
Columbia County Board of Adjustment and Planning Zoning Board
|County Planner||Brandon Stubbs – (386)754-7119|
|County Attorney||Joel Foreman – (386)752-8420|
Planning and Zoning provides various services to the County which entails providing technical, professional and administrative support to various boards, Board of Adjustment, Planning and Zoning Board, Board of County Commissioners and the general public. This department implements and enforces the Columbia County Land Development Regulations, monitors and updates the County’s Comprehensive Plan.
The board meets every fourth (4th) Thursday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Columbia County School Board Administrative complex:
372 West Duval Street
Lake City, Florida 32055
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-