Two Important New Water Quality Regulations
First up, and the subject of the January meeting, is simply a proposal to extend the County’s current wetland protections to the entire County. Currently, they only apply in the unincorporated County. The County’s standards are significantly stronger than the default state standards in use by most of the County’s municipalities, which allow developers to simply pay to destroy wetlands. Consequently, a number of large large landholders have annexed into adjacent municipalities in recent years in an attempt to evade the County’s wetland protections. Plum Creek/Weyerhaeuser is the most glaring example, with large annexations into Hawthorne and to the north of Gainesville.
Second, later this spring, the County will consider whether to adopt new standards for future growth that would reduce the pollutants in stormwater runoff that foul our streams, springs, and drinking water supplies. We will provide more information on this as the date for action approaches.
The meetings so far have been during the day and largely unpublicized, so the only feedback that County Commissioners and staff have received has been from paid representatives of the folks opposed to any new law: developers and the smaller municipalities. The County Commission needs to learn whether the public at large cares. The threat is not so much that the County Commission will do nothing, but that they’ll accept so many “fine print” compromises that the final law is completely neutered, in ways that only the professionals can understand.
The time has come to translate talk into action. The Commission is divided on whether to act. Please attend, and bring a friend.