Update on Blue Springs Properties

 Our Santa Fe River, Inc.

www.oursantaferiver.org

454-386-2366

Hello Everyone,
I tried to keep this mailing a bit shorter.  Although, I have gone into more detail about Blue Springs than any time in the past e-mails.
For our boaters and Manatee lovers please read the last e-mail.

Update on Blue Springs Properties:

We have received dozens of e-mails and questions regarding the tree harvesting taking place on CR 340 where the water bottling plant is supposed to go…
We know that Blue Springs Properties owners Kim Davis and family (who owns the land) and Loncala (who owns the trees) were scheduled to cut down trees earlier this year.  Loncala is only cutting trees…since it’s Ag-2 land this is allowable.  A coincidence or planned in accordance with their wishes to build a facility right in those locations…it’s difficult to say.  HOWEVER,  THEY DO NOT HAVE A PERMIT TO COMMENCE CONSTRUCTION FOR A WATER BOTTLE PLANT.

As for Blue’s next step.  We know they have hired Jefferson Braswell.  He is an “environmental attorney” out of Gainesville.  And they have filed a “Writ of Certiorari”. This means that they are asking for a re-examination of trial documents in an Alachua County Circuit Court.  This was filed by Braswell during the 2nd week in November 2008.  The corporation is attempting to “quelch” the decision in which Gilchrist County commissioners voted 4 to 1 to deny the Development of Major Impact on County Road 340 in the northern part of Gilchrist County near the Santa Fe River and directly next to the Blue Springs campground.

This is excerpted from Braswell’s filed  Writ of  Certiorari:

ARGUMENTS

I.  THE BOARD DID NOT OBSERVE THE ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS OF
    LAW BY RELYING ON THE UNSUBSTANTIATED AND GENERALIZED
    STATEMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC INSTEAD OF THE EXPERT
    TESTIMONY OF A PROFESSIONAL PLANNER THAT STATED THE
    PROPOSED SPECIAL USE PERMIT IS IN HARMONY AND CONSISTENT
    WITH THE GILCHRIST COUNTY COMPREHENSIVE PLAN…..6

II. THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS FAILED TO PROVIDE DUE
    PROCESS WHEN IT REFUSED COUNSEL FOR THE APPLICANT TO
    CROSS EXAMINE CITIZENS THAT THEN FORMED THE BASIS FOR
    DENIAL OF THE APPLICATION FOR THE SPECIAL USE PERMIT…..13

Just a reminder of the Gilchrist County Comprehensive Plan’s vision statement that was quoted in both the Planning and Zoning Meeting  (March 2008) and again in the Gilchrist County Commission (September 2008) as argument against this industrial facility in a rural/agricultural neighborhood directly next to a campground on an “Outstanding Florida Waterway” the Santa Fe River:

“The vision for the County is rural communities working in harmony to provide opportunities for all its citizens through balanced growth and enhanced education, while preserving our proud heritage, natural resources and agriculture”.

Years ago a citizen group hired Braswell to fight a legal appeal that Blue Grotto in Levy County made after the county commission in that county turned down their appeal for construction of a bottling facility there at the Blue Grotto (an opening in the Floridan Aquifer and in a residential neighborhood).  He fought for the citizens who did not want it and won for them.  He is an environmental lawyer very familiar with comprehensive planning laws.  She will say something like it is in the Gilchrist County Comprehensive Plans to do what she wants.  OSFR still believes it is not viable directly next to a campground in an (Ag-2) agricultural, residential neighborhood.  The trucks, noise and light pollution are a key part of our argument.  Ultimately the strength of our conviction not to do it here lies in PUBLIC INTEREST.  It is clearly not part of the current Gilchrist County Vision statement found on the front page of the comprehensive plan booklet and it is protected in our Florida Statutes 373.223 (1) (c)  http://www.flsenate.gov/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0373/SEC223.HTM&Title=->2007->Ch0373->Section%20223#0373.223 and our Florida Administrative Code 40B-2 as a PUBLIC INTEREST is very important in these type of land use decisions. ”

It was DENIED the last time Blue Springs Properties tried to get a building permit for a water bottling facility at this location in 2003… please see this link…
Gilchrist County referred it to the Department of Community Affairs in Tallahassee, FL.
And the DCA sent an Objections, Recommendations, and Comments (ORC) Report to Gilchrist County in Jan. 2004.

Citing their objections in the following laws:

1. CONSISTENCY WITH RULE  9J-5, FAC and Chapter 163, FS
Objection 1. Suitability and Natural Resources:
The proposed land use designation would allow for a variety of industrial activities, such as manufacturing, assembly, processing or storage of products in an area that is an unconfined high recharge area for the Floridan Aquifer.  In addition, the soils are identified as having sever limitation for septic tanks due to poor filtration.  The proximity of the proposed industrial site to water resources in the area, including Blue Springs and the Santa Fe River, both of which are designated as being Outstanding Florida Waterways, is a concern, since the reclassification of the property to Industrial has the potential to have increased adverse impacts to these resources.  As there is no central sewer system in this portion of the county, the site would have to be served by a septic tank system.  The data and an analysis did not address these potential impacts to the resources.  Further, the data in the amendment did not provide any  information about the site listed species or habitats.

Authority:  9J-5.006(2)(b); 9J-5.006(3)(b) 1; 9J-5.011(2)(b) 5; 9J-5.001(2)(c) 4; 9J-5-013(2) FAC; Section 163.3177(6)(a)(c)(d) and Section 163.3177(8), FS

III.  Consistency with State Comprehensive Plan:
Objection:   The proposed plan amendment is not consistent with and does not further the following goals and policies of  the State Comprehensive Plan, Chapter 187.201.

a.    Goal (15) Land Use and Policy (b) 6.
b.    Goal (7) Water Resources and Policies (b) 2, 9, and 10
c.    Goal (9) Natural Systems and Policies (b) 1, 3, 6.
d.    Goal (17) Public Facilities and Policies (b) 1 and 7.
e.    Goal (19) Transportation and Policies (b) 2, 3, 9, and 13
f.     Goal (25) Plan Implementation and Policies (b) 7.

After the Gilchrist County Commissioners heard the ORC Report from the DCA (excerpted above) they came up with this (below) to make their Comp Plan in accordance with what might be able to accommodate such a facility.  Hence the words “Development of Major Impact” that we are faced with today in this land use decision.

“When the case came up in 2003, a land use map amendment from ag to industrial was required to allow the bottled water plant.  In making such a change, the county could not limit the site to bottled water plant, and thus the industrial designation would open up the site to any industrial use.  My sense was that most agreed that it was not good that the county’s only option was to open a site up to the potential for any industry, e.g., asphalt plant, cement plant, etc., when what was being proposed was a bottled water plant.  Thus, changes were made to the Land Development Code that would allow a bottled water plant in the Ag land use district, but the approval would have to be made by the county commission as a Development of Major Impact.” , e-mailed from Mr. McPherson, lawyer for Gilchrist County.

Despite the change in land use changes there are still environmental impacts that cannot be corrected with a simple change in words to allow an industrial facility.

OSFR is looking for expert testimony on behalf of the citizens and Santa Fe River.

1.  Someone who can lay black wires (for counting purposes…I don’t know the actual names of these) on the road in 2 designated locations, on both sides of the Coca-Cola Plant, so we can get an accurate count of vehicular traffic in this location.

2.  An audio expert or physician who can provide professional comments on what “low audible hum” does to animals and plant life.

3.  A county planner that can attest to discrepancies in the Gilchrist County Staff Report.

4.  A hydrolgist that can discuss the impacts of what 1 million gallons every 2 days would do to our rivers/springs and aquifer.

5.  A lighting technician or engineer that can provide comments on what night time lighting does to the rural environment.

We will be consulting with a number of lawyers who have expressed interest in this land use decision.  AND, if the Circuit Court decides that Blue Springs Properties gets to have a re-do of the Gilchrist County Commission meeting as a “quasi-judicial hearing”…we will be prepared once again.  This time, the participation from the citizen input will be doubled.  Democracy is still very much a part of these proceedings.

Thank you all for your interests.
AND keep the comments coming.
I have tried to answer them all, if I have missed a reply, please resend.
Sincerely,
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson
board member OSFR
More to come.
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