Thursday, November 27, 2008

Letter: The beautiful views you may save may be your own

Letter: The beautiful views you may save may be your own

Edward A. Slavin Jr.
St. Augustine
Publication Date: 03/18/01

Local forests are under siege, destroyed before our eyes. Why was a beautiful spot once covered by woods (the northwest corner of state roads 312 and A1A) denuded by bulldozers, destroyed to erect yet another you-store-it business -- tacky and unshielded by trees, which landowners unwisely wiped out? Why did the county, leasing Anastasia state park lands, destroy five to 10 acres of trees and wildlife habitat for no good reason, without fine, firing, penalty or lease cancellation? Why did ''nonprofit'' Flagler Hospital destroy its beautiful trees for yet another parking lot? Do some businesses have a libido for the ugly? When will the orgy of tree killing and billboards stop? Who thinks it attracts tourists? Who is made happy by it? Who profits from wanton destruction of natural beauty and pleasures?

Where else are artists, musicians and entertainers hounded by police and banned from a pedestrian-only street, their free speech rights repeatedly censored on government orders, backed with arrests and the awesome power of the state? Communist China? Cuba? Horse-drawn carriages slow down automobile traffic on St. Augustine's major streets, with no complaint from self-aggrandizing burghers who ban artists from no-auto St. George Street.

Lincoln took ''public opinion baths,'' listening to Americans. Why are local citizens limited to three-minute statements, while loquacious developers' (and censors') time is effectively unlimited? Elsewhere, citizens speak and question freely. Here, citizens are too often rudely cut off. Why?

Why did County Commission's Nocatee weekday hearings commence at 1:30 p.m.? Why are most government meetings during workdays, preventing most from attending? Elsewhere, meetings are at night to make it easier for citizens to participate.

First, commissioners approved the unwanted new Nocatee city. Then, to ''protect'' the public, St. Johns County Commission passed an unwanted ''leash law'' to keep any dog anywhere from running around without a leash -- even on the beach at midnight in winter. Local ''hassle you'' governments too often let forest-killing developers have their way, while other citizens are pestered. This may violate equal protection.

Commissioners voted to leash the wrong citizens. There is a problem here with unfettered developers, not dogs. In approving Nocatee, the commission accepted assurances about the Davis family's goodness, refusing to ''look a (supposed) gift horse in the mouth.'' A Jacksonville weekly newspaper (''Folio Weekly'') has reported without contradiction that the Davis family's Dee-Dot Ranch sold land to the state of Florida, which turns out to be contaminated with illegally dumped toxic waste from dry cleaners, laboratories, metal and plastic manufacturing -- petrochemical poisons, solvents and heavy metals. If three unwise commissioners had not rushed to approve Nocatee Feb. 23, the results of investigations of toxic dumping on Davis family land might have been discussed.

Let's ''leash'' tree-killing developers -- let's ''curb'' and ''collar'' their power to destroy and uglify St. Augustine and St. Johns County and our natural heritage. Register and vote. The beautiful views (and cherished freedoms) you save may be your own.

Click here to return to story:

© The St. Augustine Record

No comments: