Thursday, April 8, 2010

Newsletter: Highlands Regional Plan Issues

By Amanda Valenti

The Highlands Regional Master Plan covers 859,358 acres of land, including seven counties and 64 percent of the state’s drinking water comes from that area.

Because of this, it makes it extremely important to protect and preserve. 5.4 million residents are dependent on this water supply, therefore many are concerned about the validity of such a large plan. Residents want the plan analyzed to ensure the money and time it is going to take will be effective. With such a large plan, is it likely more issues will rise once more people begin work to enact the plan.

The Regional Master Plan consists of a “set of guidelines on how to maintain and enhance the natural resources and promote sustainable growth within the region,” according to This plan was “adopted” on July 17, 2008.

The overall point of the Master Plan is to “protect families, farmers, and businesses against water shortages, dry wells, and costly water treatment systems,” according to It will also help support the life of agriculture, thus improving businesses. states, “The Plan will be beneficial not only at the local level, but at all levels of government, and can serve to maximize the benefits of State and federal planning and financial investments in land and infrastructure.”

The best way for this plan to be executed is for local governments to work with the council to get everything in order.

There is a choice to either opt-in or opt-out. By opting in there would be regulatory changes whereas opting-out would result living under the current regulations. Also, opting-in would mean they must gain approval from Highlands Council prior to adoption of any ordinances or plans. Opting-out would not be subject for highlands approval.

Opting-in has many more regulations, therefore securing the best interest of the land. Opting-out would leave too many loopholes that could be overlooked. It would do the residents justice should the regulations remain the same. There needs to be changes in order to move forward with preservation and opting-in can secure those changes will happen.

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