Sierra Club drops lawsuit regarding Babcock Ranch by Mitch E. Perry

07/21/06

It now appears that the sale of the 91,000 acre Babcock Ranch, the largest piece of land remaining in the state, WILL go thru, with the announcement that the Sierra Club has dropped their legal challenge to that sale. . The challenge to changes in the Charlotte County land use plan threatened to derail a long-standing effort to preserve in state ownership up to 74,000 acres of the 91,000-acre Babcock Ranch.

The conservation plan was approved by the Cabinet and the Florida Legislature and was set to close before Sierra’s petition was filed, challenging the amount of development that could take place on a small part of the ranch.

The lawsuit had alienated the Sierra Club from other major environmental groups in the state, like the Audobon Society and the Everglades Foundation.

But the Sierra Club was NOT going it alone. Several local environmental groups in Charlotte and Lee Counties were supporting the Club’s position.

The Sierra Club dropped its demand for lower density limits for 17-thousand acres of the ranch that would remain in private hands. That property is to be developed as a new city including businesses, offices, schools and about 19-thousand residential units.

 In exchange, developer Syd Kitson agreed to shift part of the development from the north to south side of the ranch to reduce sprawl and increase the size of a wildlife corridor. He also agreed to take other steps to limit sprawl, improve wastewater treatment and require energy efficient development.<p><p>

Frank Jackalone is with the Sierra Club (roll tape#A o.q.�2,000 acres�)

Eric Draper is with the Autobon of Florida . He said one reason the Sierra Club dropped the lawsuit was because they were feeling pressure from other environmental groups (roll tape#1 o.q. “about the litigation�)

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