By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
At Wednesday night’s Jan. 19 meeting, the County Commission voted 5-0 to deny a request from Nestle Waters to vacate three undeveloped subdivision lots the company had purchased from River Highlands subdivision. The three lots, five acres each, are contiguous to Nestle’s well field property near the town of Lee.
Kent Koptiuch, Natural Resources Director for Nestle, said that the company wants to extend its level of protection over the property and include the three lots in its forestry management plan to protect its groundwater system.
Commission Ellis asked if anything was preventing Nestle from doing that now, with property remaining as it was, undeveloped platted lots owned by the company. Koptiuch replied that there was noting stopping them, but that the company simply wanted to make it formal, the three lots becoming one contiguous lot instead of three separate ones, returning to acreage as if the lots had never existed. Ellis raised the concern about setting a precedent; other businesses have sometimes taken advantage of a zooming change that pulled platted lots out and reverted them back to an agricultural zoning.
“We’re in it for the long run,” said Koptiuch. “We don’t have an ulterior motive (except) protecting our investment. This is one more tool in our tool box to better protect that land.”
Jimmy Anderson, a resident of River Highlands subdivision, who lives next to one of the lots, protested the zoning change. Nestle attorney Austin Peele pointed out that the company had met all requirements for the request and had shown good faith in resource management so far.
However, because Nestle could continue its current plans without the change they had requested, the Commissioners voted 5-0 to deny the request.
Another item generating much discussion was the signing of the Community Covenant pledging support for military families in the Madison area. Rae Pike spoke for several minutes assuring the Commission that the covenant was nothing more than a statement of affirmation for active military personnel and their families, that the county was not going to be made financially liable for anything by signing, and that contrary to previous information the Commission had received, no “plan of action” was required before they signed the document at the signing ceremony, Saturday Feb. 5.
“This is a coalition, not a contract,” she said. “It is a promise of support.”
This public show of support, she said, is what motivates other people, other groups, to formulate the plans of action and the initiatives to provide help where it is needed. The Pentagon and Department of Defense has been actively encouraging small communitie across the country to sign these covenants, and if Madison signs, it would be the first community in the entire state of Florida to do so.
Since the Commission has on more meeting scheduled before the Feb. 5 ceremony, they agreed to put the covenant signing on the agenda for a vote at the next meeting, when they would have the new information documented for the county’