Category Archives: Politics

Withdrawn but will return: subdivision in aquifer recharge zone near Little River, Lowndes County, GA @ LCC 2021-12-14

Update 2022-01-09: Cancelled: Lowndes County Commission Meetings 2022-01-10, so expect expect the contentious Miller Bridge Road subdivision that was withdrawn last time to be back with larger lot sizes at the January 24 and 25 Commission meetings.

The subdivision WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman spoke against at the November Planning Commission meeting was withdrawn before the December Lowndes County Commission meeting.

[Lowndes County Commission, Rezoning withdrawn temporarily, Aquifer recharge zone]
Lowndes County Commission, Rezoning withdrawn temporarily, Aquifer recharge zone

But the withdrawal letter said they would be back with a new plan by January 5th. The subject property near the Little River is still in an aquifer recharge zone, and far outside any appropriate Character Area in the Comprehensive Plan. Continue reading

FPL opposes rooftop solar, deploys utility-scale solar 2021-12-20

FPL profits from deploying utilty-scale solar fields, but its executives and shareholders do not profit by home and business solar panels reducing need to generate power and reducing purchases of expensive mid-day electricity. So FPL opposes rooftop solar while bragging about being a world leader in solar energy.

FPL is regulated as a public utility, so you can demand the Florida legislature stop this bad bill. How about some solar financing instead?

[Rooftop vs. utilty-scale solar]
Rooftop vs. utilty-scale solar

Mary Ellen Klas for the Miami Herald and Mario Alejandro Ariza for Floodlight, 20 December 2021, Revealed: the Florida power company pushing legislation to slow rooftop solar; Florida Power & Light delivered bill text to a state lawmaker. Its parent company sent $10,000 to her campaign coffers,

The biggest power company in the US is pushing policy changes that would hamstring rooftop solar power in Florida, delivering legislation for a state lawmaker to introduce, according to records obtained by the Miami Herald and Floodlight.

Continue reading

Resolutions for Okefenokee Swamp, against strip mine –Suwannee Riverkeeper @ SGRC 2021-12-09

Yesterday I asked members of the Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC) to pass resolutions supporting the Okefenokee Swamp and the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers against a proposed titanium strip mine. SGRC’s members include 18 counties, which is almost all the Georgia Suwannee River Basin counties, and 45 municipalities. Some of them have already passed such resolutions: Valdosta, Waycross and Ware County, Homeland, Kingsland, and St. Marys.

[Suwannee Riverkeeper; Okefenokee Swamp, mine site]
Suwannee Riverkeeper; Okefenokee Swamp, mine site

You can ask your local city or county government to pass a similar resolution. The previous resolutions are on the WWALS website.

You can also ask GA-EPD for a moratorium on mining permits, or to deny the permits, or at the very least to examine them very thoroughly and produce the equivalent of the Environmental Impact Statement that the Army Corps should have been working on.
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

You can also use Protect Georgia form to end a message to your Georgia statehouse delegation.

Floridians, this mine site is upstream from Florida, and you can also use these forms.

Thanks to SGRC Council Chair Joyce Evans and Assistant Director Chris Strom for inviting me to come speak to SGRC.

See also Continue reading

Northern Turnpike Extension Kick-Off meetings 2021-12-07

SB 100 didn’t stop one of the M-CORES projects: a toll road up US 19 across the Suwannee River to Jefferson County connecting to Thomasville, Georgia.

Starting tonight are three meetings about the current incarnation, which aims to run from FL 19 at Wildwood through the horse country of Marion County past Dunnellon into Levy County past Chiefland, stopping (for now) just short of the Suwannee River. That’s already a sizeable swath of the springs heartland of Florida.

But don’t expect it to stop there: SB 100 authorized it to go “to a logical and appropriate terminus as determined by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)”

So please attend online or by telephone or in person. Otherwise, they’ll say nobody objected.

[Map and Meetings]
Map and Meetings

Tuesday Dec 7, 2021, 5:30-7:30 pm, FDOT Public Kickoff Meeting Continue reading

We do not need endanger the aquifer recharge zone with a subdivision. –Gretchen Quarterman for WWALS @ GLPC 2021-11-29

Update 2022-01-02: Withdrawn but will return: subdivision in aquifer recharge zone near Little River, Lowndes County, GA @ LCC 2021-12-14

When the Greater Lowndes Planning Commission (GLPC) held a Public Hearing Monday for a rezoning for a subdivision in an aquifer recharge zone, WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman spoke against it. Three hundred other people opposed the rezoning. The Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend denying it.

But GLPC does not decide: the Lowndes County Commission will do that on December 14, 2021. And the County Commissioners can, if they choose, change the lot size or approve the rezoning as proposed.

This is what to watch for on that upcoming agenda: REZ-2021-28 Windy Hill S/D, 7532 Miller Bridge Rd., 0010 022, 34 ac., Community well & septic, EA to R1.

[Gretchen, speakers, aquifer recharge zone]
Gretchen, speakers, aquifer recharge zone

Here is the LAKE video of Gretchen speaking, at 19:56. Continue reading

Valdosta working to protect Okefenokee Swamp –WFXL TV 2021-11-15

Kyra Purvis, WFXL, November 15, 2021, The city of Valdosta is working together to protect Okefenokee Swamp,

The city of Valdosta is working together to protect the Okefenokee Swamp from a proposed strip mine being placed near the area.

[Reporter, Mayor, Suwannee Riverkeeper, mine in Suwannee River Basin map]
Reporter, Mayor, Suwannee Riverkeeper, mine in Suwannee River Basin map

The Okefenokee Swamp is a 438,000 acre wetland that straddles the Georgia-Florida line and is a place [where] many local residents go for nature-filled fun.

Continue reading

River gauges, Comprehensive Plan, Planning Commission: Three Lowndes County Meetings 2021-10-25

In Lowndes County, Georgia, three meetings today and tomorrow affect water, including the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers, upstream from Florida:

That’s right: two of the meetings are at the same time today, and two of the meetings have no agendas posted. What we know so far is below. For detailed updates of these Lowndes County meetings, follow Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE):
http://www.l-a-k-e.org

If there are especially interesting water developments, I will also post here for WWALS.

[Character Area Map, River Gauges]
Character Area Map, River Gauges

Comprehensive Plan Update

5:30 PM Tuesday 2021-10-26: No agenda posted for Public Hearing to Review and Transmit the 2021 Comprehensive Plan Update by Lowndes County Commission

Address: 327 N. Ashley Street, 2nd Floor Commission Chamber, Valdosta, GA 31601

This is the meeting that could have the most effect on water. No agenda is posted, and no updates to the Lowndes County Character Area map since the one shown here, which was prepared for a September 28th meeting.

We’ll find out at 5:30 PM this Tuesday whether the Character Area Map for Lowndes County will change. Two sources tell me that it won’t for this update of the Lowndes County Comprehensive Plan, except for some tinkery fixes not in the northwest part of the county.

But many of us thought Continue reading

A trash source success: parking lot on St. Augustine Road, Valdosta

Valdosta, GA, October 7, 2021 — Other businesses can do what Stafford did, and our creeks and rivers will be a lot cleaner! That will make Valdosta, Lowndes County, and every place downstream, more attractive to new and existing businesses, and healthier for people who live here.

After many times cleaning up trash from Sugar Creek near the Withlacoochee River, WWALS member Bobby McKenzie went upstream in Valdosta, found some sources, and one of the big ones listened. Other businesses can follow this example: put trash cans in parking lots, empty them, and keep them swept.

[Parking lot, Hightower Creek]
Parking lot, Hightower Creek

Bobby tells the story:

We identified hundreds of pounds of trash being thrown into the tree line just feet from Hightower Creek. The parking lot owner is Valdosta Mall Corners c/o Stafford Development Company (Stafford). Continue reading

Denied: Deannexation of Cherry Creek Mitigation Bank @ VCC 2021-08-19

WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman heard it on Valdosta’s facebook livestream. The result was surprising only in that it was unanimous.

Bryce Ethridge, Valdosta Daily Times, Aug 24, 2021, City denies de-annexation request, approves park projects,

VALDOSTA — After tabling it at the last meeting, Valdosta City Council denied the de-annexation of 310 acres from the city.

This was a request made by the Uvalde Land Company for the city’s portion of the Cherry Creek Wetlands Mitigation Bank property located between the Withlacoochee River and Cherry Creek residential neighborhoods.

The company wanted the change for “wildlife management and recreational use” for a hunting ground.

The request, even before being brought up in the council meeting, was opposed by nearby residents, some of whom were concerned about being in the path of stray bullets because of their homes’ proximity to the area.

Mayor Pro-Tem Tim Carroll said the applicants can seek permits to hunt on the land while it remains within the city.

“None of the reasons given warrant the de-annexation of the property, especially when you consider there are a host of homeowners that have homes above this property,” he said. “They are citizens of Valdosta and they deserve to have their voices heard by their representatives.”

Carroll motioned to deny the request, followed by a unanimous vote in favor of the action.

[Aerial of proposed de-annexation]
Aerial of proposed de-annexation in 2021-08-05 Regular Session, Valdosta City Council

The picture is from the preceding City Council meeting, when they held the Public Hearing, before tabling at the landowner’s request.

Tim Carroll is visible behind the small monitor at the speaker’s podium. The de-annexation would have been from his City Council district, so, as is usual in such cases, the other Council members followed his lead, although some of them also had other reasons to deny.

See also: Continue reading

A lot of titanium, but only one Okefenokee Swamp –U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock 2021-08-28

“We have a lot of titanium, but we only have one Okefenokee Swamp,” said U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, very early Saturday morning in Valdosta, Georgia.

[U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, Gretchen Quarterman]
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, Gretchen Quarterman

That’s WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman with the Senator.

You can ask the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to reject the five permit applications they got from the miners, or at least to thoroughly examine them, with independent third-party review.
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

The Senator left with contact information for the Charlton County Commission. If you know any of them, you could talk to them, too.

Later that same morning, Continue reading