Coalition to Martinez: Join Call to Curb High-Density Coastal Development

June 18, 2007

The Florida Coalition for Preservation asked U.S. Senator and Republican National Committee General Chairman Mel Martinez to protect American taxpayers from being forced to subsidize irresponsible coastal over-development along America’s barrier islands.

Former Congressman Tom Evans, chairman of the Florida Coalition for Preservation, called attention to the need for Congress to act to limit damaging, high-density coastal over-development by denying taxpayer subsidies – including National Flood Insurance – to new construction on barrier islands that would greatly increase the population density of a small area and dangerously strain surrounding infrastructure.

Evans held out the multi-million-square-foot development proposed at Briny Breezes in South Florida – reportedly to be valued at more than $3 billion – as a prime example of grossly irresponsible development that could damage the environment, waste taxpayer resources and batter Florida’s strained insurance market should a hurricane strike the region.

“I know you appreciate and understand how Florida residents know firsthand the dangers inherent in living in areas most vulnerable to the violent storms that will inevitably strike our coastline,” Evans said in his letter to Sen. Martinez. “That’s why intensive, high-density building on fragile, storm-prone barrier islands is risky at best and grossly negligent at worst.”

Evans, a former Co-Chairman of the RNC, noted that the heritage of the Republican Party includes an honor roll of strong conservationists stretching back to President Theodore Roosevelt, Evans said. President Eisenhower established the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency.

In 1982, President Reagan signed the Coastal Barrier Resources Act, which Evans sponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives. Evans expressed hope that, with Sen. Martinez’s leadership, Congress could expand that act to ban all taxpayer subsidies to dangerous high-density development on barrier islands.

Today, the American taxpayer often ends up subsidizing such development by the extension of federal flood insurance and other programs, Evans said. “Congress ought to tell developments point-blank that if you develop on these fragile barrier islands, you should do so on your own nickel and not the American taxpayer.”

“I realize fully that there are entrenched development interests who would oppose the type of initiative I’m suggesting. However, I believe the American people are fed up with the fiscal insanity that exists in Congress and especially when it encourages development on vulnerable storm-prone barrier islands,” Evans said.

Developers want to jam tiny Briny Breezes with multiple high-rise towers housing 900 condominium units, 300 timeshare units, a 349-room luxury hotel, restaurants, retail shops, parking facilities and a yacht marina – all on an environmentally fragile, hurricane-vulnerable barrier island.

The Florida Coalition for Preservation has urged all concerned citizens to express their objections to the plan by writing to Department of Community Affairs Secretary Thomas Pelham and Department Plan Review Administrator Bob Dennis before the end of June.

Source: Business Wire

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