By Lenny Guckenheimer, Charlotte Dems contributing writer, and Larry Kuranowicz, Charlotte Dems Vice-chair.
Charlotte County is undergoing another period of exponential growth. This has happened a number of times over the last forty years, and often has occurred without adequate planning by our local governmental bodies. To some, this is most notable in traffic snarls, crowded beaches and boat ramps. But the most troublesome results can be seen in the detrimental impact it has on our waterways and coastal environment.
Some of the nation’s largest developers have had plans in the works for many years to change existing land use and zonings to allow for more commercial and denser residential development. Many parcels of undeveloped land are being rezoned for higher-density development. Eventually the necessary permitting runs through the County Commission for approval. We, as citizens, have the opportunity to become involved in this process, and we who live, work and play in our county must do our part to ensure that growth is properly managed, and any adverse environmental effects are minimized.
Decisions made today will affect not only our lives but also future generations. Many of us moved here because of the county’s natural beauty, water access, and great weather, with hopes to pass along our pristine paradise to our children. Land development has a tremendous impact on our environment. Our coastal community is by nature sensitive to the inevitable pollution caused by rapid expansion and population growth. And much of the infrastructure needed to cope with the increasing traffic, the demands on our schools and hospitals and the other aspects of rapid growth lag far behind when growth is not properly managed. It is a quality of life issue that affects all of us; retirees and working families alike.
We need to ensure there is affordable housing for working families in our community. We also need to set aside sufficient public lands for parks and recreational facilities to meet the needs of our growing population. And perhaps most troubling, rapid population growth strains our social safety net. Our community is already struggling to cope with a growing homeless population, and mental health services are woefully inadequate.
There are many opportunities for residents to become actively involved in county government and to help influence how the county develops and operates. Residents can attend Commission and City Council meetings or participate on committees and advisory boards that can recommend policy, taxes, and spending.. These are public meetings, where citizens can address important issues. Many of the existing advisory boards have vacancies that offer immediate opportunities to become directly involved in county government.
Charlotte County Democrats are taking an active role in promoting citizen engagement in our local government by creating the resources to help our members get involved. We wish to educate the public on important local issues that will have an immediate and long-lasting impact on residents’ lives.
To that end we have formed a working group to formulate and implement a plan to make the workings of Charlotte County government and the City of Punta Gorda more transparent to our members, and to encourage Democrats to become involved in the non-partisan aspects of local government.
Doing this will require bright ideas and creative thinkers. We ask that all DEC, Club and Caucus members consider joining us in this effort. If you can participate or would like more information, please email Larry Kuranowicz at [email protected].
Image Credits: Another batch of homes planned in Murdock. Lennar looking to build 358 homes near fairgrounds; Image provided to the Daily Sun