Florida developers, environmentalists clash over Econlockhatchee

Here in Florida, would-be developers are often stymied by laws regarding the water management and the preservation of wetlands. While we support efforts to preserve our environment, we empathize with commercial real estate developers who get tangled up in red tape.

We recently read about an interesting case out of Wedgefield. That is where environmentalists are alleging that the local water authority, The St. Johns River Water Management District, has been stifled in the face of local development that could imperil the nearby Econlockhatchee River.

The issue seems to be that Wedgefield wants to increase dredging and filling of wetlands near the Econlockhatchee, which has been named an Outstanding Florida Water.

So far, both the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the St. Johns River Water Management District have kept quiet about the plan, which has surprised and angered some environmentalists. They alleged that the agencies' reticence is due to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has sought to centralize water control in Tallahassee, rather than leave it to local governments.

While we do believe that the environment ought to be a consideration, we do have empathy for developers who get tangled up in red tape. Sometimes, it can seem as though regulatory agencies have the best of intentions, but are not able to execute them effectively, leaving commercial interests in the lurch.

Oftentimes, developers find it helpful to seek the counsel of an attorney who has experience working with real estate matters. These attorneys can help shepherd a project from blueprint to reality, pitching in when legal issues threaten to derail the plan.

Source: The Orlando Sentinel, "Water district keeps its distance as other fight over wetlands tied to river it is guarding," Kevin Spear, April 29, 2013