Monkeywench Gang

“Fomenting Citoyen Activism Since Shortly After December 26, 1950”
“Sunshine is the best disinfectant”
former Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, Louis Brandeis

Be informed regarding potential legislative action in Tallahassee. We are seeing, more and more, decisions being made in Tallahassee which are contrary to the “home rule” charter in our Florida Constitution. The “Keep it Local Florida” initiative has been created by the Florida Association of Counties.



Just a quick reminder that all of the very good work that was done in planned development in Florida over the last 20 years is about to be abandoned. Up until the last election, a developer had to show that a requested new development plan was compatible with the surrounding area—i.e., don’t put an urban type of development in the middle of an area of horse farms, such as we have in Marion County. Someone requesting a permit to develop also had to show that there was a NEED for new housing inventory in an area.
Now, all bets are off, and one can pretty much build anything anywhere if they want to.

The very good letter below explains quite well what we could be facing soon. Our new elected officials, led by Governor Rick Scott, have introduced legislation that puts an end to the cutting edge rules for development of the last 20 years, and which will allow a random free-for-all in development. Literally.

Please read below, and then take a minute to contact your elected officials, letting them know what you think of the new approach to growth management (which is to say, ‘no more management.’)

Some of you may remember that Lynn Recio and I stopped an incompatible development proposal a few years back by proving that there was no need for 1600 new homes on 400 acres in the middle of horse country and 1-home-per-10 acres-zoning. But our new legislators are trying to insure that there no longer are any state laws that would allow us to repeat that success.

Please contact your State Representative and Senator ASAP and tell them what you think. Beautiful areas of Florida are already disappearing at an alarming rate—let’s not let everything be made into endless subdivisions because of a relatively small number of developers who control the conversation these days.

Susan Woods


A Bygone Triumph
We need more of these again!

September 15, 2009

At the Florida State government’s Cabinet meeting at which Susan spoke, Gov. Crist told Woods, “I want to thank you for your tenacity, your candor, and your hard work.” Woods, who had served as her own lawyer through the two and a half year-long battle, personally made the motion to support DCA staff’s suggestion calling on the County Commission to pull the plug on the project.

State Cabinet rejects 800-home
Marion subdivision

Officials predict the decision that handed a horse farmer a victory over a major developer could have growth implications statewide

By Bill Thompson
Staff writer, Ocala Star Banner
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A lone citizen’s challenge to a land use change approved by the Marion County Commission in 2007 will be taken up Tuesday by the Florida Cabinet in what has evolved into a landmark growth-management case of statewide significance.
The Cabinet – Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson – will hear the case of Susan Woods v. Marion County. The David vs. Goliath case has a single citizen taking on big development and revolves around the County Commission’s vote to change 396 acres of farmland off West U.S. 27 from rural to medium-density residential. Castro Realty Corp. sought the land-use change so it could build 790 houses on the rolling pastures.

In reaching its 3-2 decision, the commission ignored the recommendation of its own planning staff, which concluded the houses were not needed in an already glutted housing market.

The commission’s action was sent to the Department of Community Affairs for final approval, which it got.
Enter horse farmer Susan Woods. The environmentally active Woods challenged the County Commission’s decision. She argued the project was not compatible with the rural, horse-farm character of the area. She argued that so many houses would harm the aquifer because of the karst topography. She, finally, argued the county had failed to meet the long-accepted “demonstration of need” benchmark.

With no lawyer in tow, she took her case to DCA. She won a rare, almost unheard-of reversal of DCA’s decision. More important, Woods won DCA support through the remainder of the process, including from DCA Secretary Tom Pelham personally.

For more of the story CLICK THIS – AND THIS