This is a letter to the editor

In the Washington Post (See Jan. 7, 2018 edition “On Florida’s ‘Forgotten Coast,’ a Supreme Court fight over fresh water”), County Commissioner Joseph “Smokey” Parrish is quoted as saying “Everybody who comes here says, 'Man, keep it just the way you have it.'” But our little piece of heaven, the pristine area around Alligator Harbor, is about to be despoiled.

A single resident is attempting to get a zoning change what will allow him to lease his land on Alligator Harbor to the Great Florida Shellfish Co. for the purpose of starting a commercial oyster spat farm. This one acre sits in the middle of a residential area.

We support the oyster industry of western Florida but a commercial seafood operation does not belong in a residential area. The zoning laws of Franklin County exist so that commercial operations are gathered on certain areas and people can live in residential areas free of the commercial traffic, the noise and the odors. In December, the county commissioners will vote on a proposed zoning change that will allow the spat vats (according to the site plan) to be placed only 20 feet from the nearest neighbor's house.

The residents of Alligator Point have bought their property to enjoy the peace and beauty of coastal Franklin County. The idea that a single resident might spoil our neighborhood for the sake of the lease revenue from his land is truly disappointing. That the commissioners are considering making the zoning change to allow this to happen is appalling.

At the November meeting of the county commission, 15 residents spoke opposing the zoning change and the building of the spat nursery; 30 residents stood to show their opposition to the new commercialization. Only the resident who will profit and his South Florida partner, the owner of Great Florida Shellfish Co., supported the rezoning.

The lesson here is simple. If the commissioners choose to ignore the will of the community and vote for a commercial operation so that a single resident can profit in our neighborhood, the commissioners will do the same in your neighborhood.

The lesson here is simple. Commercial operations belong gathered together in commercial areas and people should be allowed to live in peaceful neighborhoods free from the noise of pump motors, the smell of seafood odors, and the traffic of a commercial operation.

The lesson here is simple. The bay is at risk. The oyster spat must be bathed in bay water PLUS algae and nutrients. If this water gets into the bay by mechanical failure, human error, or weather event, experts tell us the likely result will be an algae bloom that could destroy the fish in the bay, the marsh grasses, and would end up damaging the egrets and blue heron.

The lesson here is simple. An entire neighborhood should not be penalized so that a single resident can profit. Worse still, once the precedent of altering zoning laws to place commercial operations in residential neighborhoods for the profit of one is set, we are all open to future invasions in our backyards.

Please tell your commissioner that zoning laws and the rights of a neighborhood need to be respected. Tell your commissioner that most of the people of Franklin County are not so gullible to be fooled by a South Florida businessman waving money. Tell your commissioner that what we ask is simple – Man, keep it just the way We have it.

Robert Lamey