Dear Editor,

Who do your Gulf County Board of County Commissioners really work for?

This is a question that got a blunt answer at the Aug. 28 Board of County Commissioners meeting. In the situation listed below they definitely are NOT listening to or working for the people who elected them...you and I.

For those of you who were not there let me briefly explain this travesty of events.

One of the items on the agenda was the repealing of the RV ordinance . The room was overflowing into the hallway with folks specifically there to offer support for not repealing the RV ordinance. Yet a very peculiar thing occurred. Commissioner Rogers from District 3 (St. Joe Beach and Beacon Hill) suddenly moved to repeal the ordinance and Commissioner Ward McDaniel seconded it. This all occurred before the the chairman recognized the people who wanted to speak in support of keeping the current RV ordinance! Would you say the fix was in? Only after this overt display of bias bubbled to the top did the chairman allow public comment to begin.

I was one of the first speakers representing the CCA to present an unbiased survey from all the surround town and bayous in South Gulf County. Only six questions were asked regarding the RV ordinance. The survey received an overwhelming response from 286 folks who were adamantly opposed to having the RV ordinance repealed. Here are the responses to just four of the questions:

*63.12 percent believed the RV ordinance should NOT be repealed.

*57.8 percent were extremely concerned a RV would be a threat to them during a wind event.

*60 percent believed the RV ordinance should be strengthened a lot.

*70 percent felt a RV next to their home would impact the value of their home.

Next a renowned structural engineer specializing in wind on structures demonstrated to all what happens to a RV during a major wind event. In short a RV can become a mobile grenade threatening property and life.

The next speaker was a prominent realtor. She presented her expert analysis as to what happens to a home when a RV is placed next to it. It can drop in value up to 10 percent or more. She presented several more facts that compared values where there were no RVs vs where there were RVs in a neighborhood. Homes not near a RV increased in value over the past year an estimated 28 percent. Home values near a RV decreased 5-10 percent.

There were 6 or 7 more people who urged the Commissioners to keep the ordinance and to reconsider their earlier decision to repeal it. All of the facts by each speaker and the overwhelming support of the folks in the room for keeping and increasing the ordinance fell on deaf ears.

The official vote was taken and three Commissioners David Rich,Jimmy Rogers,and Ward McDaniel voted to repeal it. It should be noted this ordinance only affected property within one mile of the coast. Jones Homestead, Highland View,and Oak Grove were exempt from the ordinance. It absolutely had no affect on Commissioner McDaniel's or Commissioners Rich's districts. Commissioners Phil McCroan and Sandy Quinn voted against repealing it....kudos to these two Commissioners!

 

The real question that remains a true mystery and begs for an answer is "why repeal the RV ordinance?" At no time did any Commissioner or staff give any explanation other than "it is difficult to enforce." No Commissioner offered any reason for voting to repeal it.

More importantly exactly who's interest are the Commissioners really working for? As it can be see they are definitely NOT work for us in this instance. We elected them, and expected them to carry out our wishes. It did not happen.

Just one day after the Commissioners repealed the RV ordinance a real estate company advertise there was no longer a RV ordinance so every lot for sale in Gulf County is now fair game for a RV.

So let me ask you who really wins here? Not your community. Not you the taxpayer who lives here. So keep this in mind when you vote again for your Commissioner, and you just may want to let him know what you think of the repeal of this ordinance that protected all of us in so many ways.

Gene BeHage

CCA Director