Thursday, Sep 03, 2015
Last week, the governing board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District voted to ignore the recommended order of an administrative law judge and allow local developer Pat Neal to destroy high-quality wetlands in order to build four McMansions on Perico Island.
When it comes to understanding how our local environmental resources are squandered, the story of this development is instructive. It shows a flawed process in which those who decide the fate of some of our most precious resources are often the same ones who have demonstrated the least respect and appreciation for it.
SWFMD originally voted to issue the required permit. The challengers, which included TBT publisher Joe McClash, asked that an administrative law judge review the application and issue a recommended order. After three days of presenting evidence, expert witness testimony and scientific explanations as to why the proposed development would be devastating to the local ecology, that administrative law judge’s findings of fact led him to issue a recommended order that the water management district deny the request for the permit.
In the somewhat backward process of such matters, that order than was given back to the same board who was already poised to pass it. At the meeting, Neal’s team was able to present all of their supporting arguments for ignoring the ALJ’s ruling, while McClash and his partners, which included Sierra Club, F.I.S.H. and Manasota88, then had just 20 minutes to convince the governing board to follow the ALJ’s recommended order.Read more. . .