Water Managers Say County's Plans Insufficient
LABELLE, FL. -- The South Florida Water Management District Governors Thursday approved a resolution objecting to a proposed comprehensive zoning master plan amendment on 18,150 acres in northwestern Hendry as requested by Hendry County.
Hendry County is proposing to amend its Comprehensive Plan with the state's Department of Community Affairs in Tallahassee by creating new designations on its Future Land Use Map for the "West Hendry Area." The maximum development potential of these amendments could accommodate a population of approximately 104,500 people and allow over 71 million square feet of industrial, commercial, and office space in the West Hendry Area, according to the SFWMD, in excess of what the county claims in a filing with the DCA in June.
Prior county community development plans called for only modest population gains in Hendry county, going from about 40,000 currently to about 50,000 people by year 2020. SFWMD is objecting to the proposed amendment on the grounds that it may adversely impact the Everglades Restoration efforts and does not adequately address water supply impacts, nor give proper documentation of the county's premises.
Sloppy County Documentation Cited By SFWMD
The land use changes are not accompanied by either the necessary data and analysis, or the needed water supply source and capital infrastructure changes to the Capital Improvements Element, the 5-year Capital Improvements Schedule and other elements of the comprehensive plan (e.g. Infrastructure and Conservation Elements), says the SFWMD.
The SFWMD says Hendry's proposed changes significantly under-estimate the water supply demands and infrastructure needed to accommodate the county's proposed land uses. The county's amendments identify traditional, rather than alternative, sources as future water supply sources, inconsistent with the District�s Lower West Coast Water Supply Plan Update, says the SFWMD. They say that the county has not documented accurately the possible population growth and water needs for the area, nor provided accurate legal descriptions of the land parcels involved in the proposal.
The land use changes appear to include changes to approximately 1,956 acres of SFWMD District owned lands adjacent to and associated with the C-43 Reservoir which may adversely impact the Everglades Restoration efforts. The District specifically objected to these changes and recommended Thursday that District-owned lands not be included in the land use amendment.
The SFWMD says it intends to "Strengthen the linkage between land use and water supply planning through review of local comprehensive plans" and "implement recommendations of water supply plans" when counties make changes in zoning master plans at the state level. The Board of Governors say "the support of other agencies and local governments for implementation of Acceler8 and water supply planning may erode over time" and that by formally objecting to the county�s Comprehensive Plan amendment, as they did at the Thursday meeting, the District preserves its point of entry in the state administrative process, for further comments and objections to the county plans to change its master plan.
South Florida Water Management Plan Objections (7 pages)