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Well folks, I hate to say I told you so but …. well you know the rest.
Back on March 29, I sent out a note with an update on the Rural Lifestyle Amendment. My exact words back then were “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.”
I have to say, for a few days I thought I could have been wrong, but then just like it does every day, the sun did rise. The first salvo was an Opinion column in the local paper on how to end the lawsuits against Rural Lifestyle. While our community would like to see this saga come to an end, the proposed solution was an over-simplified prescription to a complex problem that isn’t realistic. Approving the Discovery project in Hobe Sound as a PUD (Planned Unit Development) without any changes to the Comprehensive Plan is not possible. Even as a site-specific project, the County would have to approve a Text Amendment to the Comp Plan as well as a Future Land Use Map Amendment before it could proceed.
Of course, the Opinion piece was just the beginning. One of our readers was kind enough to forward me an email sent out by the petitioner challenging the Rural Lifestyle approvals. Titled “Urban Boundary Emails Needed,” the email didn’t just ask folks to voice their opinions. It included sample scripts for what they should say. Just as I predicted, those scripts were full of false claims about gutting the comp plan, creating unbridled growth, and the destruction of the urban services boundary. And just for good measure, the petitioner tossed in a few idle threats and used the name of icons in our community – Nat Reed and Maggy Hurchalla – to drum up support.
Unfortunately, when facts are substituted by fearmongering, the entire community suffers. We have sent out several information pieces about Rural Lifestyle that clearly state both what it does and what it does not do. I would encourage you to read through them again (CLICK HERE) to be better informed. Intellectual dishonesty is far too prevalent in our community, and it needs to stop for the good of us all.
For now, we will await the Governor and Cabinet to decide the final outcome of Rural Lifestyle. But while we wait to hear about what may change here in Martin County, it’s sad to know that some things never do.
Here are some quotes within the Sample Messages the petitioner sent out, encouraging unknowing citizens to email commissioners:
“The urban boundary will become meaningless because residential and who knows what commercial will be allowed ANYWHERE in the county, from the barrier islands all the way out to Lake Okeechobee.”
FALSE. Rural Lifestyle does not move the urban service boundary, is limited to properties of 1,000 acres in size immediately adjacent to the urban service boundary and will require several public hearings for any project that wants to use that land use.
“Costly sewer and water extensions would be allowed anywhere outside the urban boundary.”
FALSE. Water and sewer extensions must be paid for in full by the developer and may only be sized for the project to which it will serve so as to prevent leapfrogging to adjacent parcels.
“Given these incentives, the prices of rural land in Martin County and the profit to be made from development would dramatically accelerate the conversion of farmland into south Florida intense sprawl. It would become difficult or impossible to purchase public lands for environmental restoration.”
FALSE. The limited amount of land that could apply for the Rural Lifestyle land use based upon its restrictions would have no material effect on raw land pricing, as over 90% of lands in western Martin County are NOT ELIGIBLE. Additionally, the inference that there should be nothing allowed in the western lands to ensure suppression of land values for conservation purchases is a harmful statement that harms the very people who are farming and making a living in agriculture that they are supposedly trying to protect.
Here's What's Happening
If you'd like to look further ahead or learn more about what's happening in Martin County, visit the links below for government entity calendars: