No Building in 1/3 of the County

By: Jason Davis
By: Jason Davis

The Panhandle has always had an abundance of natural resources.

Local governments have been struggling to find a balance between those resources and the need for new development.

Jackson County is temporarily halting new development in about one-third of the county. The six-month-long planning pause affects about 69,000 acres of the land known as the Blue Springs basin.

County planner Bryan Bair says the temporary ban is necessary and not that unusual.

"Majority of counties across Florida that have water sheds and large springs in their county, most of them already have ordinances and regulations to help tailor that growth and protect that area,” says Bair.

Blue Springs Basin has an under ground cave system. Some of it is unmapped. Some of the caverns or under water caves are only 30 feet from the surface.

"It's concern, especially in Jackson County where our cave systems tend to be more closer to the surface of the ground in this area than a lot of other counties in the state of Florida."

Another concern is water contamination. The large amount of farm land in the area has produced high levels of nitrate from fertilizers, that's turned up in the spring water.

"It takes up to 17 years sometimes for water to travel from the upper part of the basin to actually go into the spring, so these nitrates have been applied years ago and are just now coming out of the springs,” says Jackson County Administrator Ted Lakey.
County officials hope to have some land use ordinances in place by the end of the six-month development pause.

Jackson County’s planning pause only applies to major developments. Single family homes in established areas are not affected.


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