Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lee Public Voice's Proposed Priority 2015 County Board Issues

On Oct. 10th Lee Public Voice (which BikeWalkLee is a part of) sent a letter to BoCC members with its suggestions of the most important and urgent issues that need the Board's attention and direction in 2015, with adoption of the Comp Plan amendments (Horizon 2035 Plan) being the top priority. Citizens are urged to attend the Oct. 21st BoCC meeting to communicate your views about next year's priorities.  If you can't make the meeting, consider writing, calling, or meeting with them.

10/19/14 Update:  BikeWalkLee sent the following email to Board members in support of the LPV suggested 2015 priorities for BoCC:

From: Darla Letourneau 
Date: Sun, Oct 19, 2014 at 3:55 PM

County Commissioners,
BikeWalkLee strongly supports the Lee Public Voice suggested 2015 priorities for the Board.  There is no greater priority for the Board than the expeditious adoption of the Lee Plan Amendments (Horizon 2035 Plan). It is also critical that the Board quickly adopt the stalled Sustainability Plan, reaffirm its commitment to sustainability and to the mission of the Community Sustainability Advisory Committee. 
BikeWalkLee also urges the Board to return to the 100% impact fee rate in March 2015 and then undertake the important task of reforming the system so that it provides incentives for infill and takes a multi-modal transportation focus vs. a road-only approach.  Adoption of the Comp Plan amendments is the critical first step towards reforming the impact fee system.

 Darla Letourneau
on behalf of BikeWalkLee

Lee Public Voice (LPV) is a network of civic, community planning and environmental organizations whose goal is to ensure that Lee County government pursues policies that contribute to the long-term benefit of the citizens of Lee County and that those policies are decided in an open and accountable manner.  BikeWalkLee is an active participant in this network of organizations.

LPV's "Proposed Priority 2015 County Board Issues", transmitted to BoCC members by LPV Chairman Don Eslick on Oct. 10th, urges the Board to reestablish its long term vision and begin to evaluation some of its core, long term policies and programs that have been put on hold, cut back, and/or immobilized during the recession, and to moved forward with the revised plan.  Below are highlights from the LPV proposed priorities paper:

Adopt Delayed Plans:

" Lee Public Voice (LPV) believes that the Lee Comprehensive Plan and the Sustainability Plan, both of which have been delayed for several years, need immediate County Board review and approval so that County government, our 650,000 residents, businesses and institutions will have the direction that is needed for all parties to work together to maintain and improve our economic opportunity and quality of life as the County’s growth resumes at a sustainable pace."

1.  Lee Plan Amendments--Horizon 2035 Plan.  This should be the Board's top priority for 2015. "The Lee Plan is the county's overarching planning policy document and serves as a "road map" for the public to know how the county will address a wide variety of issues, including land use, transportation, housing, natural and cultural resources protection, economic development, etc."

2.  Sustainability Plan.  LPV urges the Board to adopt this Plan by the end of 2014, to reaffirm its commitment to sustainability, and restart the CSAC.

Revitalize Stalled Programs:

1.  Conservation 2020. "LPV believes a key goal for the BOCC in 2015 should be to bring the 2020 review process to a successful conclusion, implement the appropriate changes, and resume a more robust acquisition program to preserve watersheds and critical habitat for the future of Lee County and restore a dedicated funding source for the program." 

2.  Budgeting and Funding Infrastructure...Restoring Full Impact Fees.  LPV's requests are three-fold:
a.  Impact fees must return to 100% on March 13, 2015 when the current 2-year 80% reduction ordinance expires, so that future development is again paying for the public infrastructure costs it is creating.
b.  The County must provide the public with a full accounting of its impact fee policy decisions and their consequences for Lee County's taxpayers.
c.  Once impact fee revenues have been restored in March, the second task of reforming the current impact fee system can begin--a reformed approach that provides incentives for infill and takes a multi-modal transportation focus vs. road only.  "Adoption of the Comp Plan amendments is the Board's critical first step towards reforming the impact fee system."

3.  Implementing the Density Reduction/Groundwater Resource Plan (DR/GR) Recommendations.  Since the DRGR report was adopted by the BoCC in 2008, little has been done to implement its recommendations.  "There are critical areas of the DR/GR that are in private ownership and the BOCC should direct County Staff to move forward to contact the owners of these lands for possible conservation by the 20/20 program.  There are millions of dollars needed for this task and those funds are currently available and should be utilized before land prices escalate as the real estate market recovers."

ACTION ALERT: Upcoming BoCC discussion of 2015 priorities and public input opportunities

At the Oct. 7th BoCC meeting, the County Manager said that the Oct. 21st BoCC workshop (1:30 p.m.) would be a discussion of policy issues for the coming year.  Then on Oct. 29th, the Board would have a full day off-site strategy session to establish its priorities for the year.  

Oct. 21st opportunity for public input:  While the Board is still not allowing the public to speak and its workshops, there is now a standing item at the very end of the regular BoCC twice monthly Tuesday morning meetings called "Work Session Update and Public Comment on Work Session"  The intent of this standing agenda item is to allow the public to comment (in the usual 3 minutes) on topics dealt with at past workshops, the procedures followed at such workshops, or the subject to be discussed at the workshop that afternoon (where public comment is not allowed). 

Thus, there is an opportunity for the public to speak about the 2015 priorities (either from LPV's suggested list or on any other suggestion) at the Tuesday, Oct. 21st 9:30 a.m. regular meeting (in BoCC Chambers).  This will be the only opportunity for public input before the Board discusses their 2015 priorities and then adopts them on Oct. 28th.  If you're unable to attend the BoCC meeting, you can always send them an email, call them, or meet with them. The Oct. 21st afternoon workshop (in the Administration East building) is open to the public and can also be viewed online or on Channel 97.  Click here for guidelines for speaking at BoCC meetings and/or communicating with them.

Report by Darla Letourneau

Click here to read the full LPV letter and paper

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