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Setback rules may change

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By Jeff M. Hardison

After weeks of discussion with the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA), a 330-foot setback may be changed to be a 100-foot buffer, Levy County Planner Shenley Neely said.

The Levy County Comprehensive Plan currently requires property owners to not build or use their own land when it is within 330-feet adjacent of any state forest, federal wildlife reserves, state wildlife reserves or next to Suwannee River Water Management land.

County Commission Chairman Sammy Yearty introduced the idea to do away with this setback, he said. The County Commission agreed and has worked to overcome this element in the comprehensive plan for growth management in Levy County.

Taking a taxpayer's ability to use his or her property without being compensated, Yearty said, seems unfair to him. He understands the need to protect the forest, but not a 330-foot setback. These people pay taxes on that setback land, Yearty said.

The DCA sent its Objections, Recommendations and Comments (ORC) report to the county. The state expressed its concern about the county wanting to do away with the setback, which separates natural settings from the human population.

On March 18, the County Commission adopted its response to the ORC by a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Nancy Bell was absent from that Tuesday night meeting.

Yearty said he believes this is a good amendment to the comprehensive plan. He is happy with the work of the county planner on the adopted amendment.

"I'm very impressed with Shenley Neely," Yearty said. "She did a good job on that."