Around the State
The Franklin County Commission delayed its decision on a nine-hole golf course near Apalachicola Bay after seafood workers raised concerns that the course would pollute an oyster bed. Workers say a Sandestin course polluted oysters in nearby Horseshoe Bayou. Developer Morris Palmer says the course would feature artificial greens and include only 18 acres of fairways, which would dramatically reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Palmer adds that golf would attract homebuilders and buyers to the area.
Residents of the barrier island community of Indian Hills are contesting a proposed condo. They say the 10-story project doesn't belong next to their single-family homes and would increase traffic. A group of Santa Rosa Island residents filed a similar suit .
Pensacola officials asked the state for the entire $8.7 million needed to turn the Port of Pensacola into a regional port authority. State-run Florida Seaports says it can't legally make a grant without a local match, but it pledged to pay half the amount.
Carriage Services agreed to merge with Forest Lawn/Evergreen Management Corp., which owns and operates three cemeteries and one funeral home in Panama City and three funeral homes in Fort Walton Beach. Carriage Services, Houston, is the fifth-largest publicly traded death-care company in the U.S.
According to Harris InfoSource, 64% of the growth in manufacturing jobs in Florida since 1996 derives from five sectors: electronics, 20%; transportation, 15%; measuring equipment, 14%; food, 9%; and stone, clay and glass products, 6%.
Blue Cross & Blue Shield beat out Humana to replace Unisys as the state's health claims processor. The $97 million contract is expected to save the state $183 million in medical costs over the next four years. Blue Cross will take over on Jan. 1, 1998.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce says the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed clean air regulations which would authorize the EPA to regulate microscopic particles, would cost business as much as $150 billion a year to implement. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has said it will sue to stop the new regulations, saying EPA failed to consider the impact of its regulations on small business.
After raising its homeowners insurance rates by 24%, the state's largest insurer, State Farm, promised it wouldn't raise rates again until at least 1999. Bill Nelson asked State Farm to write at least 100,000 new policies in Florida. Allstate says it will cover or find coverage for an additional 127,000 homeowners. Currently three-fourths of the homeowners market in the state is covered by State Farm, Allstate or the state-run Joint Underwriting Association.
CLASH OVER CONDOS
Santa Rosa Island...
... residents are fighting to keep high-rise condominiums off their island. The Panhandle is home to Florida's largest stretch of undeveloped beachfront property [FT, Aug. 1997], and if a coalition of residents of this rural barrier island has its way, at least one part will remain that way. The coalition has taken the Santa Rosa Island Authority to court to nullify the lease of the last developable land on the island to Allen Levin, a local developer who plans to build eight 21-story condos on the site.
The coalition says it wasn't given due process to speak out against high- density development that will change the landscape and rustic quality of the island. The project will overburden infrastructure, create unwanted traffic and cost millions of dollars in beach restoration, according to the coalition.
"Clearly the trust (Levin's group) was not qualified or trained to make the financial or environmental decisions it made," says David Theriaque, lawyer for the coalition.
Levin calls the coalition's protest an act of desperation. "It's a drawbridge approach," says Levin. "Their attitude is, 'We've got ours, now we don't want anyone else here.'" According to Levin, the property in dispute has been zoned for high-density development for 30 years, he's had rights on the property since 1984, and the lease adds more than one-and-a-half-million dollars a year for 99 years to the island's coffers
- Brian Hires