As much as we might like to, we cannot close the gates to keep people out of Florida. They're coming, estimated now at 900 people a day. Mind-boggling!
In our last newsletter, One Martin offered readers a short primer on the best practices to accommodate this inevitable growth and the demands it places on our food, water and housing resources.
We said that we must shape growth in a manner that is sustainable, that conserves our resources, preserves our open spaces, and ensures the quality of life we treasure, now and for our children after we're long gone.
The challenges are daunting, yet not insurmountable.
The key, we believe, is to look ahead, to have a vision of this sustainable community of the future, and devise a sound plan to get there. In fact, that monumental task was undertaken by the 1000 Friends of Florida, the University of Florida and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 2016.
The educational institution, the non-profit, and the government agency partnered to launch the Florida 2070/Water 2070 for the next 50 years.
A component of the 2070 plan is to educate the public and stakeholders regarding tried-and-true community planning concepts and ideas, which have long been promoted by the 1000 Friends of Florida.
They hosted, along with the Guardians of Martin County, an all-day workshop at IRSC's Chastain Campus on Salerno Road last fall. It's one of the most comprehensive I've seen organized anywhere, and it was open to the public.
Worth noting is that both The Guardians and 1000 Friends were co-founded by the late environmentalist Nathaniel Reed, himself a land developer, who had said he wanted to see every community adopt the 1000 Friends philosophy toward land development.
It's hard to do that until residents understand good planning principles.
Unfortunately, their inclination is just to rebuff all planning, because of the mistaken idea that it leads to growth, instead of creating the kind of growth that we can live with, protects our resources, and is sustainable.
Last fall's workshops were not a sign-waving, fever-pitched rally on the side of the road that accomplishes little except, perhaps, to make us feel as if we're doing something useful. It was a hands-on intense short course on planning principles that have evolved from some basic facts:
- Most people prefer spending time with family and friends instead of on the road fighting traffic.
- Most people prefer to live close to their jobs, to shopping, and to their entertainment and recreational activities.
- Most people prefer small communities near to wide-open spaces over large subdivisions.
- Most people want local access to safe food and clean water.
- Most people want to protect and restore the environment and to preserve wildlife habitat.
Speakers were heavyweights in their fields, and their presentations showed the impact of trends today and the possibilities for the future.
They encouraged communities to allow mixed-use development, to cluster development to increase protection of natural lands, to establish incentives and increase funding to help landowners conserve important agricultural lands and other working landscapes, and to work to significantly lessen the impact of new development on Florida’s lands and waters through sound planning.
Yes, as I said, it was one of the best planning workshops ever!
The 1000 Friends' planning philosophy reinforces and aligns with our own philosophy toward planning. It gives me hope that the One Martin mission to work together to make Martin County a healthier, more resilient, and prosperous community for everyone is, indeed, possible.
If you want to know more, go to www.onemartin.com to sign up for our next newsletter.