Federal law protects eagles at Wal-Mart site

Re: Eagles add a twist | story, Oct. 17

Federal law protects eagles

Due to two nesting bald eagles, the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, the largest nonprofit wild bird hospital in the United States, supports the Tarpon Springs Planning and Zoning Board's recommendation on Oct. 16 to deny Wal-Mart's site plan.

It is imperative to have our local comprehensive zoning plans consistent with state and federal ones to honor the 660-foot buffer zone for these beautiful birds that are the U.S. national emblem.

Wal-Mart has failed to meet these with their suggested revisions and modifications. Their proposed building site is on the environmentally sensitive banks of the Anclote River, and is not only the home to these two eagles but to many species of birds and wildlife.

The eagles are protected by the federally mandated Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which forbid the harming, selling or killing of eagles, their nests or eggs.

The public is encouraged to voice their opinions at the Tarpon Springs City Commission's meeting at 6:30 p.m. today at Tarpon Springs City Hall, 324 E Pine St., Tarpon Springs. To avoid another all-night meeting on this issue, the city reserved Oct. 22 to continue if necessary.

Thanks so much!

Michelle Simoneau, marketing and public relations coordinator, Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, Indian Shores

Re: The law, not emotion, needs to decide this editorial, Oct. 19

Store will benefit Tarpon Springs

My wife and I are fully in favor of the proposed Wal-Mart development on its U.S. 19 property in Tarpon Springs.

This is a tract of private property appropriately zoned for the type of retail development proposed. Similar retail development exists nearly continuously for 50 miles of U.S. 19 north and south of Tarpon Springs. The north bank of the Anclote, across the river from the Wal-Mart property, is already fully developed.

If this area was to be set aside for a park or nature preserve, the time to do it was years ago, before the comprehensive zoning plan was set and U.S. 19 was subsequently ruined by virtually unchecked development.

At a time in Florida when sales tax and property tax revenues are diminishing rapidly, Tarpon Springs desperately needs this revenue stream for survival.

Wal-Mart has indicated by its cooperative actions that it will try to accede to reasonable needs of the Tarpon community. Although I do not care a great deal for Wal-Mart, I am convinced that they will do their best to be good neighbors.

Those who are concerned about the property environmentally should be aware that it has been used for a dirt-bike and ATV raceway for years, turning it into a badly damaged and incredibly noisy sand pit! We would also like to note that in several years of walking in the river area, we have not seen any bald eagles on this part of the Anclote, only osprey.

This property and the U.S. 19 frontage were environmentally damaged over many years. Wal-Mart bought it with a legal and reasonable expectation of using it for its properly zoned purpose, and they should be permitted to do so.

We fully agree with your editorial. The Tarpon Springs City Commission's decision must be based on law, not emotion.

David and Rocelyn Pearce, Tarpon Springs

Re: Tarpon Springs Wal-Mart project

Ignore passion, focus on reason

It seems that the concerns, feelings and passions of a relatively small group of people, some not even residents of Tarpon Springs, have clouded the issue of what the city's responsibility is concerning the proposed Wal-Mart development of private property within the city limits. Fortunately, our country is run by laws, not the feelings, concerns or passions of a few individuals.

Despite the Planning and Zoning Board's ignoring the determination of the city's legal expert and authority in its vote, the City Commission's sole responsibility now is to reaffirm that the project was based upon the laws in force at the time and that the proposed project met all the city's necessary requirements at that time and meets them now.

The city made the correct decision in originally approving this project and should do so again. Any other issues that have been brought up by those who oppose the project are not within the city's purview but will be determined between Wal-Mart and other legal authorities and regulatory agencies once the project is approved by the city.

The arguments put forth to the city by those who oppose the project have nothing to do with the city's responsibilities. As James Madison wisely stated in 1788 in the Federalist Papers No. 49, "The passions, therefore, not the reason, of the public would be able to sit in judgment. But it is the reason, alone, of the public that ought to control and regulate the government. The passions ought to be controlled and regulated by the government."

While I can appreciate the feelings being expressed over this issue, the city needs to adhere to the principles of sound and fair governing of issues that fall within its responsibilities and approve this project.

If they do not do so and even more of the citizens' tax money should be expended in a lengthy and costly lawsuit, any commissioner who votes against approval will certainly never receive my vote again.

Sandra Tracey, Tarpon Springs

Nature needs our help to survive

The eagles nesting on the site proposed for a new Wal-Mart highlight a much bigger issue facing our county: How will we limit growth so our remaining natural areas are not consumed by development?

This is an urgent question for every community in light of recent landmark reports showing that: 1) 25 percent of mammals worldwide face extinction, and 2) many of the world's bird populations are declining rapidly. Are we willing to wipe out our fellow creatures to build more big box stores? Is this the world we want to leave our children?

If not, we must act now to protect the natural areas that support a wide diversity of species before we lose anymore creatures. These areas include our parks, preserves, waterfront land and bodies of water like Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Elected leaders, it is your job to protect our communities for the long term, not to approve every new construction project that comes along. Keep buying the undeveloped land that becomes available even though money is tight right now. Then safeguard that land from development. There is no better investment in the future of our county, our tourist industry and our planet.

Elizabeth Drayer, Clearwater

>>your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at www.tampabay.com/letters, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

Federal law protects eagles at Wal-Mart site 10/20/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 3:20pm]

    

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