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March 24, 2008
The Honorable Michael S. Bennett
Re: SB 2406 Preemption of Local Authority
Forgive the informality but weíve all known each other too long to try to wow you with titles. But unfortunately, the long friendship may be tested a little since the above referenced bills place us on opposite sides of a very serious issue. My colleagues on the commission have designated me as point man on the matter, and I must tell you I will be working diligently to thwart what we view as an unwarranted intrusion into the purview of local government.
You are surely aware that the Lee County Commission is hard at work on a long needed review of those lands in the southern part of the county designated DRGR. And as you know a temporary mining moratorium was adopted to give us time to do a thorough job in searching for long term solutions for future activities that might take place in that area. At this point we have not only expended significant funds to hire the very best outside help in this task, but we have already established a committee of effected players, both from the industry and local neighborhoods, which is hard at work developing proposals for the commission to consider. In addition to actual representation on the advisory committee the mining industry has at its disposal for its protection the United States Constitution, The Florida State Constitution, and The Bert Harris Act. We are wondering just what additional ammunition these folks feel they need.
The county has every right to examine for the welfare of our citizens the proper use of lands within our jurisdiction. This has been clarified by the courts many times, particularly regarding protection of water resources. There were several items for which the county had asked the legislative delegationís assistance this year. This was NOT one of them. And it is hard for us to understand why the delegation would seek to limit those officials closest to the citizens from fighting for their basic rights of clean air and water, and not to forget regulation of heavy truck traffic in developing residential neighborhoods.
I know you are working on a newer version of the original bill. But my understanding is that a final version still preempts existing rights of local government, and quite frankly, that is unacceptable to us. Whatever bill might pass, at the very least, would immediately force citizens to travel to Tallahassee to protect their interests, rather than have them addressed locally. Your proposals take away citizens ability to speak for themselves, and that is a giant leap backwards. We know of no other interests in the state who are pushing for this bill other than those companies doing work in Lee County. This is not a State crisis. And in fact it is not a crisis at all. Lee County is dealing with the matter forthrightly and responsibly. Stated as clearly as I can-----We didnít ask for your help, and we donít need your help. Please rethink this whole issue.
cc: BOCC Districts 1, 2, 3, & 4
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