New growth management chief Buzzett walks both sides
Here's one story about William "Billy" Buzzett, the onetime development company executive Gov. Rick Scott just appointed to lead the state's embattled growth management department:
While driving through Apalachicola with a St. Joe Co. co-worker named George Willson, Buzzett stopped the car on the highest hill in town, next to an ancient cemetery.
"He showed me there were Buzzetts there — five generations of them," Willson said. " 'They lived here through hard times and good times,' he said. And then he said, 'I care about where my kids and grandkids will live.' "
Here's another story about Buzzett: To get approval for a controversial $330 million airport for Panama City built on land donated by St. Joe, he toured the region promising the company would set aside 41,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land. It's the main accomplishment Scott cited to explain why he picked Buzzett to lead the state Department of Community Affairs.
Now the airport is open, but its builder was cited repeatedly for pollution violations and an investigation found millions of dollars were spent on it improperly. As for the 41,000 acres that were supposed to be preserved, "that land has yet to be donated to the public," complained Linda Young of the Clean Water Network.