Suwannee Democrat

Opinion

December 27, 2013

Guest commentary: No confidence in our county commissioners

Live Oak —

By Lori McCraney

Suwannee County resident 

I am writing with regard to the Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners recent 3-2 vote to decline assistance from the Department of Economic Opportunity. The commissioners had only recently voted 3-2 to seek DEO assistance in developing the Suwannee County Land Development Regulations in a manner acceptable to both the board and to the community. The agency had responded and indicated that it could advise the board at no cost. Now, the commissioners have reversed course, and in doing so violated the good faith of the public.

Last month, the No Bio group submitted a list of recommended changes to the Land Development Regulations for the board to consider: 

  • Removing the harmful “by right” additions to the LDRs.
  • Prohibiting uses and structures that are unacceptably dangerous or polluting.
  • Correcting context errors (misplaced text) in the LDRs and the Suwannee County Comprehensive Plan.

These changes were to be part of the conversation that commissioner Jason Bashaw had suggested, but now the board has summarily rejected these suggestions, ignoring the 2,263 petition signatures of county residents asking the board to remove the “by right” text.

The unprecedented LDR 13-06 “by right” additions to the LDRs effectively bypass public hearings for special permits and special exceptions for the Catalyst site. They also remove the public’s right to be heard regarding the catalyst site’s future development.  

The board is continuing to modify the LDRs in a piecemeal fashion for the commissioners’ convenience. Now, with yet another proposed amendment, LDR 13-07, the board is suggesting the addition of one public hearing before the board, which grants exclusive catalyst rule-making and oversight to the board. This also limits the public’s opportunity for discovery to only one public hearing.

Narrowing such authority to these five public officials is without precedent and usurps the conventional authority of the Board of Adjustment regarding special exceptions. This violates the intent of the LDRs and the Comprehensive Plan.

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