Coalition Urges Development Monitoring

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Still waiting for your FEMA aid from Hurricane Ivan? One local group wants to block some people from receiving the taxpayer funds.

The Panhandle Citizen's Coalition wants local governments to uphold a federal law that would keep hurricane relief from getting to some area communities. The group's leader John Hedrick is asking the Gulf County Commission to support the Federal Coastal Barrier Resource Act, which says if you build on barrier islands you do it at your own risk because no federal funds can help your rebuild after natural disasters like a hurricane.

That includes home and business owners in areas like Cape San Blas and St. George Island.

Hedrick says this is part of a bigger agenda to encourage area governments to slow down and make sure they are managing the growth and involving locals in the process.

"Best example here locally is the one you try to put a stake in its heart and it just doesn't want to die, it's called the airport, the proposed airport. The citizens voted against it 54 percent to 45 percent and yet what's going on? It still lives, it still moves on."

The coalition put together three resolutions they are handing out to local governments from Tallahassee to Pensacola. The group is asking for more protection for coastal and isolated wetlands and for area commissioners to step-up and follow their county's comprehensive plan.

The Panhandle Citizen's Coalition is one of nearly two dozen service and environmental groups calling for a closer look at what they call explosive growth in our area.