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OSFR was denied the petition for an administrative hearing due to the fact that we were a day late in our submission.
Christopher Byrd thought we could challenge the challenge based on other district court of appeals’ decisions as a matter of precedence, but he was not present to offer his comments on his idea to pursue this petition.
However, the district’s contracted lawyer, Mr. Tom Reeves explained, with the assistance of board member and lawyer Ray Curtis, that the appellate courts and administrative hearing courts are two different places with different rules and laws.
John Jopling, a lawyer and member of OSFR and president of Ichetucknee Alliance, offered his assistance in defining the procedure with these two gentlemen.
Even if the district were to pass this petition through to be heard by an administrative judge, that judge would have thrown it out. A day late is a day late.
The most unfortunate part of this is that OSFR could never say what we came to say about how this permit was issued. The chairman told Merrillee that she had all the time to do so at previous meetings and right now we were dealing with the issue at hand, day late material not the bigger part of the issue. The permit has already been decided. He was obviously upset about her editorial in the Lake City Reporter and said so.
OSFR thinks the district can do better with our public water supply by applying the three-prong test to include existing users and public interest to keep the water in the ground and, as John Jopling so carefully described, not allow large excessive water use permits until we know how much is in the aquifer and all water metering has been installed and data collected.
The room was well attended with members of our community that did get a chance to speak during public comments. Linda Soride from the IchetuckneeTube Center, Wayne Kinard from Amigos Dive Center, and Randall Lance, a local organic farmer spoke very well and straight. These waters are important to them for their businesses, quality of life and their own health.
Also, these individuals spoke well too. Paul Still, Lucinda Merritt and John Jopling of the Ichetucknee Alliance, and Jim Tatum of OSFR.
The public interest is growing in these government meetings, and the board referred to some of their comments during the meeting.
This post was written by President Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson