A controversial repeal of a Wakulla County wetlands protection ordinance is set to take effect in about a week.
While a public vote on whether to repeal the ordinance is on the November ballot, Monday’s Wakulla County commission vote centered around what should be done during the months leading up to the referendum. And, in a 4 to 1 decision, commissioners repealed the ordinance requiring a 75-foot buffer zone around the county’s wetlands during a final public hearing on the issue.
“I think the board has acted in the words of one of our citizens ‘irresponsibly and recklessly’ to do this before allowing the citizens to voice their opinion,” said Commissioner Howard Kessler.
Kessler, who cast the lone dissenting vote, says he along with many residents who attended the meeting were disappointed by his colleagues’ decision—expected to take effect next week.
“So, from ten days from now until November 4th if the citizens’ vote the wetlands protections back in place, during that period of time, people can build without any buffers,” he added. “When you negatively impact the buffer, you are negatively impacting our wetlands.”
The Wakulla County commission has tried several times to repeal the ordinance. That came after complaints from property owners living near the wetlands and developers about how hard it was to develop the land with the buffer zone in place. A petition that received thousands of signatures got the matter on the ballot.
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