The Environmental Efficiency net. That law is absolutely necessary.
Commission, created by the Legis- Without it, the water districts' non-
lature to improve natural resource elected governing board would have
protection, has taken a position that final say on matters of the utmost im-
undercuts that protection. portance to Florida.
The panel must revise its stand if it The appeal provision rarely dis-
is to have credibility, rupts district business. But its impor-
To reform Florida's water-related tance was demonstrated recently
regulations, commissioners agreed when the South Florida Water Man-
that the state's five water districts agement District, rejecting its own
should be responsible for virtually staff's recommendations, approved
everything that concerns water, tak- the construction of a condominium
ing over many of the permitting tasks complex that included a marina, res-
of the state Department of Environ- taurant and lounge inside a water-con-
mental Regulation. The DER, under trol dike on Lake Okeechobee.
the plan, would retain only an over- On appeal, the Cabinet overturned
sight role. the decision. The developers then ap-
The proposal has some merit. The pealed the Cabinet's decision to the
regionally based water districts would state's Fourth District Court of Ap-
give more local exposure to the per- peal, which upheld the rights of the
mitting process. And the districts Cabinet to reverse and of affected
state agencies that can levy property parties to appeal district decisions.
taxes probably could better con- Florida's growth represents
tend with the work load. Their staffs Floridas growth reresents wealth
are experienced with water regula- and opportunity to a host of special
tions, interests, who work furiously to influ-
But district control carries the ncegrowth-management decons
The state must see that economic
threat of greater vulnerability to pres- he stte st see tt eon
self-interest does not overwhelm far-
sure from local governments and de-
velopers seeking permits. sighted environmental policies.
That is why it is baffling and Not allowing water district rulings
altogether irresponsible that the to be appealed would eliminate an im-
commission would not allow affected portant protection for sound growth
parties to contest district decisions. management. If the Environmental
In their last meeting, commission Efficiency Commission does not un-
members advocated eliminating the derstand that, then we fail to see how
right of appeal of water districts' deci- the Legislature, or Floridians, can
sions to the governor and state Cabi- have much confidence in it.
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