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Gulf Breeze News – February 04, 2021

Our country was founded on many principles, including an end to taxation without representation.

Except in south Santa Rosa County. Here we pay more taxes than the rest of the county in exchange for no voice or representation. Basic civics lost on Commissioners Parker, Cole and newcomer Calkins.

Fellow south Santa Rosa residents; those commissioners want to remove protections from our drinking water. Protections that limit borrow pits, extractions, and back-filling near the aquifer our water is extracted from. Those practices take away the soil and sands that filter toxins from our water, while back-filling adds contaminants.

To repeat, they want to allow the removal of the very thing that filters contaminants while adding fill that contains contaminants. Elected officials without education in hydrology and hydrodynamics feel they should overturn extensive scientific research, studies and data that put protections in place a decade ago. We are told “developers don’t believe borrow pits are risky.” But fact-based scientific proof says otherwise.

We’re told cameras will monitor the sites. But development laws and codes are violated daily. Who will watch the cameras? How will the county know if someone exceeds the maximum depth while removing soil? We have two code enforcement officers for an entire county with hundreds of development sites.

On the south end, we have 51% of the population yet pay 59% of the county’s property taxes. We pay $82.4 Million while the north end pays $57.7 Million in taxes. South Santa Rosa pays over $24.5 Million more than the north end. Yet, we have less representation.

What are we getting for our extra $24.5 Million we send to Milton each year? We pay more than our fair share to get less than nothing in return. Any compromise would be something, but we don’t even have that.

For those of us who have been fighting for environmental, health and safety protections for the past few years, this vote is sadly unsurprising.

The protections we’ve fought for would mitigate flooding, improve water quality for our waterways, and improve and sustain fish populations. Little did we know, we needed to add the water that we drink to the list of things to fight for.

In April, an FDEP report stated development needs to halt on the Fairpoint Peninsula, as “demand on the water utilities is dangerously close to outpacing capacity.” We asked the commissioners to slow development approvals until this issue could be studied. Instead, an automated system was put in place to help expedite approvals of development.

Our water problem may be deeper than we thought. We need studies and transparency before it’s too late. And we need a Board of County Commissioners to do their jobs and represent constituents over special interests.

Submitted by the Save Our Soundside Board: Dara Hartigan, Elizabeth Pavelick, Kendall Creighton, and Sandy Dimick.