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It’s about time

By Staff | Jun 28, 2021

To the editor:

Women For a Better Lee is glad to see Lee Board of County Commissioners Chairman Kevin Ruane reclaiming the water policy advocate role that former County Commissioner Ray Judah held for so many years. We are curious about why it has taken so long for Lee County commissioners to come back to life when it comes to playing a role in the water quality policies adopted by the State and Federal government, considering they have such an outsized influence on what happens to both our local economy and environment.

Where have Commissioners Brian Hamman and Cecil Pendergrass been all this time? Since 2013, when Hamman and Pendergrass were first seated, the evidence points to two commissioners more interested in paving the way for more construction and development than paying attention to the approaching environmental problems that come with huge population growth. For his part, Commissioner Frank Mann has tried to defend the environment but his efforts have been largely ineffective against a 4-1 majority of the Board. Cecil and Brian have been happy to have championed the following since their election:

• Scuttling the Sustainability Plan after a three-year county-wide effort.

• Ignoring adopted community plans and siding with developers to add massive density in rural areas.

• Opening the Density Reduction/Groundwater Recharge (DR/GR) area to previously prohibited strip mining.

• Changing the County’s Comprehensive Plan to allow unprecedented density increases in the previously limited DR/GR. We now have a Publix going in 7 miles east of I-75 on Corkscrew Road on land once designated to be open and safe for endangered panthers.

Pendergrass and Hamman are quick to take credit for the truly successful Conservation 20/20 land acquisition program, originally approved by voters in 1996. However, possibly assuming that citizens would not support the program, these Commissioners voted to put continuance of this program on the ballot in 2016. They would have gladly dropped the program like a hot potato had the ballot measure not passed, but Lee County citizens were not to be fooled — it passed with 84% of the vote.

Lee County residents have suffered a grave lack of leadership by these two commissioners who have been in office since 2013 and have watched as our blue-green algae problem blossomed into a crisis year after year. In 2022, they will be standing for re-election. We need to ask ourselves: Have they earned another term? Voting for the same politicos and expecting different policies is a form of political insanity, indeed.

Charlotte Newton,

Women For a Better Lee