Home  About Sarah  Environment  Growth  Be Involved  Contact

Growth & Comprehensive Plan
Fiscal Responsibility & Taxes
Continuing & New Threats


You don’t need a sign telling you that you have arrived in Martin County. There are no high rise buildings, and there is an abundance of open space.

Will it always be like this? Can we avoid the mistakes of overdeveloped south Florida? We can, if we muster the political will to put our existing residents first. With its abundant natural beauty, warm weather and favorable tax climate, Florida will continue to be a powerful magnet for people from all over the world.

Some parts of Florida, in particular the southeast coast, have reached the “tipping point” when overcrowding and overdevelopment degrade the quality of life so much that people are escaping from there and moving on to less crowded areas. For the past 15 years, more people have moved into Martin County from other counties in south Florida than from outside the state. They are fleeing the traffic, crowds, crime, environmental destruction, and high costs that accompany overdevelopment.

Local governments have the authority and I believe the responsibility to manage growth in their cities and counties. And, we have laws to control and manage our growth.

Signed into law in 1982, our Comprehensive Growth Management Plan (the Comp Plan) is our enforceable planning document for future growth. It spells out where and how development can occur and at what densities. It protects our natural resources, our agricultural land, and our existing neighborhoods. It limits our building heights to 4 stories.  It establishes sound fiscal policies.

Using the Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) as a pretext in 2009, the Commission majority completely rewrote our exalted Comp Plan. The EAR is simply supposed to be an examination of our Comp Plan to see if its policies were meeting the goals of our residents. They certainly were for most of our residents who revere the protections of our local laws. However, a small group of special development interests who call themselves the Future Group felt that our laws were too restrictive and embarked upon an ambitious re-write project. And, the Commissioners whose votes they controlled rubber stamped the disastrous changes.

Our Comp Plan wisely prohibits commercial and industrial uses outside the Urban Services Boundaries because these uses are enormous consumers of urban services. Comp Plan amendments were approved that allow both commercial and industrial uses on our Agricultural lands, far from either of our Urban Service Boundaries.

Our Comp Plan wisely requires a minimum of 20 acres in our Agriculture land use upon which to build a home. This protects viable agriculture production and prohibits urban and suburban clusters from springing up all over western Martin County. Comp Plan amendments were approved that quadrupled residential densities on agricultural lands.

In 2010 and 2011, the county commission considered putting dense urban clusters west of I-95 and west of Hobe Sound.  Residents overwhelmingly opposed the applications and, yet, the commission majority voted in favor of the special interests that would forever have changed the character and future of Martin County.

Remember that in every single instance where we witness poor planning, overcrowding, and overdevelopment, first a Board of local government elected officials made the poor decision to abandon their existing and protective laws in order to enable and allow that overdevelopment. It's death by a thousand paper cuts. In local government, those paper cuts are Comp Plan amendments.

We must defend our Comp Plan laws to ensure smart, managed growth and a sustainable future for generations to come. This will protect our rivers and estuaries, Lake Okeechobee, and wetlands against increased pollution. It will preserve wildlife habitat. It will protect existing neighborhoods against flooding. It will prevent overcrowding in schools and on roadways. It will insure that property taxes remain low and will be used in existing neighborhoods and not used to pay for roads, schools, and services for future developments. Growth is very expensive. Growth that we cannot reasonably plan will inevitably result in increased taxes and overall degradation of our quality of life.

Home | About Sarah | Promises Made & Kept | Accomplishments | The Environment | Growth & Comprehensive Plan | Fiscal Responsibility & Taxes | Stay Involved | Contact Sarah