The need is urgent now.
If you care about green space, if you don't think every field should be a candidate for suburban development, if you want to make sure our roads and schools aren't jammed to overflowing when Florida does, eventually, start to grow again — then let the county know.
It's easy. Go to co.hernando.fl.us. There's a tab right in the middle of the page that says "weigh in on your county's future."
Click it, and you'll be asked whether you'd like to see natural land set aside by purchasing development rights. You'll be asked how much you value the protection of our water supply and the encouragement of walkable, compact communities.
I personally answered in the affirmative or clicked on "very important" to all of the above queries and since, as a columnist, I no longer have to be objective, I hope you will, too.
The county will use this information in the periodic rewriting of its comprehensive plan, which is required by the state.
A workshop on the topic will be at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the County Commission chambers in Brooksville, but the new and hopefully improved version of the comp plan doesn't have to be sent to the state until August.
So, there's still plenty of time — more meetings before the county Planning and Zoning Commission and a final public hearing in front of the County Commission in July.
You may remember the last time the county went through all this, in 2005. There was a lot of development going on and a lot of support for putting some restraints on it. Encouraged, county staffers drafted a new plan with some strict rules (most of which were supposed to be in there all along), including a requirement that stores and offices be built in clusters, not spread up and down every highway.
At the last minute, developers and Realtors showed up, complaining and calling the county "antibusiness," and the commission promptly caved, all of which I bring up to say that if you view this process with skepticism or even disgust, I understand.
But don't let it stop you from showing up at meetings or speaking your mind by way of your trusty computer mouse. Show county leaders you care. It may be all that's standing in the way of unchecked development.
The commission, by voting for the ill-conceived Quarry Preserve last year, showed it doesn't care about controlling sprawl. Neither does our new governor, Rick Scott.
One of the first things Scott did in his new job was make a joke of more than 25 years of Florida growth management law. On Wednesday, he named the vice president of one of the biggest, best-connected development firms in the state to head the state agency that is supposed to control development, the Department of Community Affairs.
You may wonder why he didn't just get rid of it altogether. Rest assured, the new guy's a step ahead of you. One of his transition teams recommended that the DCA, as well as the bothersome agency that protects our environment, be folded the into the Department of Transportation.
Will it really happen? Who knows? But we do know how much power developers have in this county. We know the state isn't going to do much to stop anyone from building anywhere.
Which means the only thing left is pressure from voters — you and your mouse.