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Not backing down: Wakulla community divided over development, water concerns

Posted at 6:25 PM, Aug 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-04 23:14:56-04

CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Wakulla County Commission meeting back in July had people passionate about water quality, sending a loud message to county commissioners.

The issue? Proposed re-zoning for a gas station along U-S 319.

"This application that's coming forward to the board is not asking the commission should a gas station be built here. I've been on the board for 12 years I've never approved a gas station," said County Commissioner Ralph Thomas.

He says he hears the community's concerns over water quality.

"I wish we could come from that understanding that yes we get it we all have to have safe clean drinking water," Thomas said. "We want to protect that but we also have processes that have to be followed."

He said as a commissioner, they have steps they have to follow when making a decision.

"This is an applicant that has brought an application forward and they're asking can we do rezoning change this property from agricultural to commercial," Thomas said.

He says if they want to do a gas station there they would have to be approved for that before anything happens.

"If they come back with a site plan and they want to put a gas station there then these things will have to be considered at that time," Thomas said.

Ana Garner is passionate about this issue. She's part of the group urging county leaders to not approve the re-zoning.

"They're not paying attention to the science," Garner said.

The science of how development on the surface can affect water underground.

"We'll stage sit ins there if we have to we'll boycott them we're not going to stop until this is resolved in a way that puts the citizens rights ahead of everything," Garner said.

But Ralph Thomas says they are listening.

"What people don't understand is we do want to protect Wakulla Springs without exception," Thomas said.