NOT TOO LATE TO MAKE A VITAL DIFFERENCE

With election day upon us, don’t assume the races have been decided. About half the voters in Martin County will go to the polls within hours. The race with the greatest impact on Martin County residents is likely the one in our own backyard—the Martin County Commission race between Ron Rose and incumbent Ed Fielding. There’s still time to influence the outcome.

That single race will determine Martin County’s future—whether to be a strong, vibrant community as navigated by a balanced Comprehensive Growth Management Plan to reach an unparalleled quality of life for the majority of its citizens, or to be a place with sky-high taxes and outrageous impact fees that eliminate all except deep-pocketed chains and businesses, the mega-wealthy who will sacrifice even the environment to pursue their privacy, and the government-subsidized poor who serve the rich. It’s up to you.

The proof? Let’s start with the statistic that 41 percent of all the current wages paid in Martin County are $25,000 or less annually, according to the Census Bureau, yet it’s our commission that continually hampers the expansion or location of businesses in Martin County—all in the name of saving the river. Really, it’s the river?

Over the past two county commission meetings, in spite of Ed Fielding’s, Sarah Heard’s and Anne Scott’s rhetoric, the truth has become abundantly clear. Clean waterways is NOT their objective. In fact, our commission majority will sacrifice water quality in pursuit of their true objective—to stop all growth, drive down land values, drive out business, and add even more land to the preserve areas to seal Martin County’s fate as a haven only for the very rich. We’re on the same track as Monroe County, where a trailer in a trailer park can cost upwards of $250,000—that’s their “affordable” housing.

During the Oct. 21 meeting, Commissioner John Haddox pointed out: “This is not about water,” he said, “it’s about growth.”

In rewriting Chapter 10 of our Comp Plan, our commission majority banned the expansion of sewer lines into our secondary urban services district—where future growth has been mapped—although leaching septic tanks are threatening the recovery of the Loxahatchee River. Our county commission majority has taken steps to BLOCK the extension of sewer lines from Palm Beach County to the homes of Rivers Edge in Martin County in order to remove the septic tanks from the Loxahatchee River headwaters and connect Martin residents to the ENCON sewer system.

At the Oct. 28 meeting, Commissioner Haddox reminded commissioners that scientific studies of the Loxahatchee had confirmed human DNA in the sewage that has seeped from Martin County septic tanks into the river’s waters. We suspect that Harbor Branch’s DNA soon-to-be-completed studies of other Martin County waterways will find the same result.

As the commissioners, and their supporters, extolled the virtues of septic tanks along the Loxahatchee, they decried them in Martin County’s agricultural areas, even though their effluent could take as long as 50 years to reach the St. Lucie River. They rewrote Chapter 10 of our Comp Plan to ban all but small septic tanks, and to limit them to one per lot—even if there’s 1,000 acres or more in that one lot, which Haddox called “a nuclear approach” to the use of septic tanks that “will devastate the agricultural community.”

Their actions mean small farms, such as the 40-acre Kai Kai vegetable farm in Indiantown, will have a difficult time surviving. As a much-needed additional revenue stream, the owners had planned to introduce agri-tourism to Martin County, where visitors could share the experience of a genuine working farm, enjoying farm-to-table dinners with vegetables picked with their own hands that day, but the septic tank ban eliminates that possibility. Although theirs is an enterprise that fits rural Martin County, a culture that most of us want to enhance and to preserve, our commission majority pulled the rug from under them.

They had no issue with undermining our farms, yet our commission majority made NO move to eliminate septic tanks along the St. Lucie River or Indian River Lagoon.

They also eliminated the zoning at the major intersections of I-95 in Martin County that would allow research facilities to locate along the Treasure Coast’s bio-medical research corridor, which they did not talk about during their meeting, focusing instead on the lack of need for service stations. Instead of changing the zoning rules, they eliminated the zoning altogether, thus eliminating all good possibilities for high-paying jobs that bio-medical research and light manufacturing could bring to Martin County as well.

And what will happen to those who purchased land at those intersections and in our agricultural areas under our long-standing, previous rules? We smell more lawsuits on the horizon, with more outside attorneys being paid by the county spigot that has already spewed $2.5 million in taxpayer dollars to pay outside legal fees in unnecessary lawsuits against a county with closed eyes and ears, bent on extremist policies.

Electing Ron Rose as county commissioner assures residents of managed growth, so that we can expand in an orderly, constrained fashion, so that we can attract businesses that provide high-quality jobs, so that our families have a standard of living that offers hope for their futures. So we can expand our tax base to alleviate the tax burden on residential properties, allowing us to fix our infrastructure—most especially, so we can fix our rivers. He has a history of reaching consensus among all parties, vital to eliminating these costly lawsuits.

He will ensure that there’s room here for middle-class families to seek their dreams. It cannot happen, however, unless you make an effort right now to get someone to the polls to vote for Ron Rose for the Martin County Commission. Call your neighbors, friends, family. Offer a ride. Tell them you’re sick of extremist politics and elitist attitudes. Never has the vote of the ordinary person been so important or so relevant. Call now.

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