Some of you might have heard the Administrative Law Judge submitted her Recommended Order on the Rural Lifestyle Land Use Amendment. Unfortunately, if you got the news from the typical sources, you would think Martin County took one on the chin. Let’s just say, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Except for a small technical issue, the Judge’s order was overwhelmingly in favor of Martin County. Of the 14 issues raised by the Petitioner, 13 were found to be in the County’s favor.
Ironically, the only issue the Judge found non-compliant was a provision in the amendment allowing a “community store” inside Rural Lifestyle Communities. You heard that right: something that would keep people inside their neighborhood rather than having to drive out to the local store for a gallon of milk is the issue. Even the Judge said in her order “…the merits of a community store are not the issue.”
However, in the Judges opinion, a “community store” creates an inconsistency in the Comprehensive Plan that needs to be corrected.
So where does the Rural Lifestyle Amendment go from here?
Both parties will submit exceptions to the Judge’s Recommended Order for consideration before it heads to the Governor and Cabinet for their review and to enter a Final Order.
While the county awaits resolution, rest assured the typical naysayers will be out in full force trying to convince anyone who will listen that the sky is falling. As sure as the sun rises in the east, there will be emails to commissioners, letters to the editor, and slanted Opinion columns touting the destruction of the county’s urban services boundary, the gutting of the Comp Plan, and how unbridled growth will come to Martin County - all because of the Rural Lifestyle Amendment. Of course, our County’s professional staff, the majority of Commissioners, and now a Judge have determined that none of that rhetoric is true.
In fact, the Rural Lifestyle Amendment will help to ensure the opposite occurs. It will create a buffer between the urban services area and existing agricultural lands, preserve in perpetuity one acre for every two acres of development, provide a minimum of 70% open space within the development and generate millions of dollars in new tax revenue with little impact on existing services.
Below is the press release from Martin County which sums up the situation. We’ve also included a link to the Judge’s order so you can read it for yourself. It is important for you to be armed with the facts as we can all be certain a page from the old scare tactic playbook is about to be dusted off once again.
One Martin President