By: Elizabeth Nickerson
November 5, 2013
Wakulla County, FL- Since 2007, a local wetlands ordinance has been in full effect. However, Monday night commissioners decided with a 4-1 vote, to eliminate local control over the buffer zone. Now, it's in the hands of the state for the next step.
"This is just a matter of being fair," said Ralph Thomas, from the Wakulla County Commission. "We should not be regulating peoples property to the point that they can't use it."
James Hennessey, a home owner in Wakulla County says this issue hits close to home. His backyard is the Apalachee Bay, where oysters line his property. He and his wife have lived there, since 1997 and have complied with the buffer zone restrictions.
"The whole economy of this county thrives on these wetlands for tourism, fishing, and recreation," said James Hennessey, a member of the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance, an organization petitioning to have residents vote on the issue. "Our beaches have been closed routinely here because of pollution already, so it seem like the worst time in the world to cut back on local protection."
The WWA wants to collect 6,000 signatures by February to put a referendum on the ballot in November of 2014, so the decision can be in the hands of the voter and not the commissioners.
"All we are trying to do is give the citizens the right to vote on this," said Hennessey.
According to Commissioner Ralph Thomas, the state will make their vote by January of 2014. Then, the commission will make the final decision.