Florida Cabinet Deals Blow to Franklin County

By: Valerie Lacy
By: Valerie Lacy

When it comes to cash, Franklin County doesn't have much to draw from. It's one of the least populated counties in the state and much of its land is public, and therefore tax free.

County leaders are hoping a new development by St. Joe will boost the tax base. There's just one problem; the county's comprehensive plan which included development for St. Joe.

The plan does not comply with state law for coastal high hazard zone, capital improvement, and affordable housing.

Tuesday, Florida's Cabinet sided with environmentalists, saying the county needs to follow the rules.

Don Ashley, a Franklin County resident, said, "I think when Pam and I challenged the comp plan more than a year ago these were some of the points we were trying to make the state aware of and now we've made the governor and Cabinet aware. The citizens of Florida deserve the right to understand growth management and how balanced growth works."

St. Joe is not upset by the ruling against the county. The company wants to roll up its sleeves and get to work.

Billy Buzzett, Vice President of St. Joe Company, said, "Well, I think the action is bringing finality to what has been almost a five-year process for the county to update its plan from a visioning effort all the way through litigation, and I'm personally pleased that we're getting close to having finalization on the Franklin County plan."

The county is preparing to meet on this issue on December 19. Franklin County still has to adjust its comprehensive plan to make sure it is in compliance with Florida state law.


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