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  • Writer's pictureWinter Haven Sun

Navigating Growth Management

31,000. That’s how many people moved to Polk County in 2023. That’s more people than the entire population of 18 different Florida counties.

As a County Commissioner here in Polk County, I find myself immersed in various issues. Among them, the most contentious is the ongoing debate on growth management. Many argue that our county is saturated, urging us to close the door on further development. However, I firmly believe in a realistic and legal approach, respecting the property rights of real estate owners in our state.

In my role as a County Commissioner, I grapple with the delicate balance of directing development while adhering to rules that prevent outright denial. The key, I argue, is responsible growth management—cluster denser areas, avoid urban sprawl, and ensure development aligns with existing utilities.

Central to this debate are the individuals selling land for development, primarily citrus farmers, and ranchers. These families have dedicated generations to working the land, some for over a century. However, foreign competition, especially in agriculture, along with citrus greening, has pushed many to the edge of bankruptcy.

The dilemma I face is navigating the tension between preserving local businesses and adhering to growth management policies. Denying these families, the ability to sell their land, often to homebuilders, seems unjust given the financial strain they endure, driven by demands for cheaper ag products. Buy local or buy American sounds good on paper but the reality is most people make purchases based on price alone and they never read the label.


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