Save the little wetlands


Martin County residents spoke up for their County and saved small urban wetlands.

Comprehensive Plan Amendment 17-7 which would have allowed the destruction of half-acre or smaller wetlands within the urban services district has been withdrawn by the applicant.

In his withdrawal letter, land planner Donald J. Cuozzo tells County staff that his proposal lacks "political support" due to "propaganda presented by the individuals against this request [which] was completely misleading."

Really? The applicant provided no data and analysis or any other material in support of the proposal to pave small wetlands. You provided first-hand observations, scientific data, and comments that recognize the value of small urban wetlands to provide flood control, clean water, and habitat for wading birds and wildlife.

Hundreds of Martin County residents successfully urged the Local Planning Agency to reject CPA 17-7 and asked County Commissioners to do the same. You spoke up for your County and you won!

Here’s the amendment that the Commission voted against:


(h) In order to encourage infill development, applicants for parcels located within the urban service boundary, can apply to impact up to one (1) jurisdictional wetland that is less than 0.5 acres in spatial extent, in accordance with the following:

1.) The wetland limits must be approved by a state agency in accordance with appropriate jurisdictional requirements and state statutes.

2.) Only one wetland can be impacted within the entire applicant parcel.

3.) The applicant cannot combine this waiver with any other wetland waiver (ie: access waiver).

4.) This exception does not apply to tidally influenced wetlands.

5.) All mitigation for impacts to wetlands granted under this waiver must be completed within Martin County whenever possible. To encourage Martin County mitigation, wetland mitigation completed outside Martin County is required to be twice the required ecological value (credits) as within Martin County.

6.) Applicants must provide an approved state permit for impacts prior to land clearing.

In recommending denial the staff said that:

  • There was no data and analysis or evidence to support the need for the amendment

  • Current policies have been in effect since 1982 AND HAVE WORKED WELL

  • The amendment is inconsistent with a number of other policies in the Comprehensive Plan and in order to adopt it, those policies would have to be changed.

Residents pointed out that:

  • The promise that allowing destruction of wetlands in exchange for mitigation credits in another county can provide twice as much environmental value is both illogical and illegal. Once the county abandons local policies requiring restoration and preservation, the state will decide on how many mitigation credits and where they will be used.

  • There is no evidence that small wetlands are worthless and cannot be restored and preserved. Small wetlands provide all the same functions that larger wetlands provide. They provide them where they are needed to protect our river, our drinking water, and our wildlife. In addition, small wetlands are critical for wading bird nesting.

  • There is no evidence that protecting our environment hurts our economy. On the contrary, Martin County comes out ahead on economic indicators when compared to counties that have chosen to grow faster and let the inadequate state rules protect their environment.

Most of all, residents, one after another, have pointed out that they came here because Martin County rules protected the waters and wild places they cared about.