On Volusia: We’re Screwed. . . Again.

They say the more things change, the more they stay the same.

You may remember several weeks ago when a large brush fire originated from the site of Geosam Capital’s Coastal Woods mega-development in New Smyrna.  The blaze spread from a pile of burning debris from clear-cut land clearing operations, closing traffic and commerce on Interstate 95 for nearly 18-hours.

In total, the 844-acre Coastal Woods development will include some 1,400 homes and commercial areas situated along State Road 44.

According to the News-Journal, St. John’s River Water Management District documents show that nearly half the site was wetlands.

In recent days, citizens living in the area have reported billowing clouds of dust rising from the moonscape where environmentally sensitive pine scrub and wildlife habitat once stood.  The powdery dirt is carried on the breeze to surrounding residential areas and has covered everything in its path – cars, pools, homes and people – in a fine patina of filth.

Now, we have learned that the clearing and other work in three separate sections of the Coastal Woods subdivision was conducted without proper environmental permits.

You read that right.

According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s environmental reporter Dinah Voyles Pulver – whose work on the Debacle in Debary should have won her the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting – the St. John’s River Water Management District (the regulatory agency that protects and preserves our drinking water supply) has been begging Geosam since February to file conservation easements for wetland impacts on two already completed sections of the project.

According to the News-Journal, during a site inspection in March, district officials determined that another parcel had also been “entirely cleared and grubbed, and was being graded” with the required permit application still incomplete.

At that time, the SJRWMD compliance coordinator, William Charlie, “recommended” that Geosam cease construction operations on that site.

Jesus – let’s not go crazy here.  I mean, the district went so far as to “recommend” work should be stopped until permits are issues?

Wow.  Our environmental watchdogs don’t mess around when speculative developers rape the land, destroy wetlands and uplands, then leave a dusty gash in the earth, do they?

What a sick joke. . .

Then, inexplicably, the SJRWMD issued Geosam Capital a permit for Coastal Woods Unit C just last week?

What gives?

You have open and on-going permitting violations and incomplete applications, a strong “recommendation” that the company stop work, flagrant disregard for state environmental regulations and those charged with ensuring compliance – yet, the SJRWMD issues a permit for work to continue at the site?

I mean, one would think our old friend Long John Miklos was involved.

You would be right.

Records indicate that Geosam Capital employs Bio-Tech Consulting – an Orlando-based environmental consultancy whose president just happens to be John Miklos – who just happens to serve as the powerful, multi-term chairman of the St. John’s River Water Management District’s governing board.

Yes, that St. John’s River Water Management District.

The same state agency responsible for regulating Chairman Miklos’ private clients – and protecting our environment.

According to the News-Journal, “This case is the third time on record in five months that a company using Bio-Tech Consulting has run into trouble with the water district for doing work without the required permits.”

Last December, the Good Old Boy’s Investment Club over at Consolidated-Tomoka Land Company – also a Bio-Tech customer – was caught red-handed churning up wetlands without a permit.

And why wouldn’t they? 

As that tormented pervert, the Marquis de Sade said, “In an age that is utterly corrupt, it is best to do as others do.”

In 2016, the Florida Commission on Ethics investigated a citizen’s compelling allegation that Miklos was using his gubernatorial appointment as chairman of the St. John’s River Water Management District for personal gain.

Miklos fish
Chairman John Miklos

It seemed like a no-brainer.

After all, you don’t have to be Elliott Ness to deduce that Bio-Tech Consulting is paid to lobby and influence the official decisions of the very regulatory agency Mr. Miklos oversees – a classic Fox in the Hen-house scenario.

In my view, a blatant conflict of interest that Miklos attempts to sidestep by simply recusing himself from key votes involving his company’s clients.

I don’t make this shit up, folks.

Ultimately, the ethics commission’s independent investigation found probable cause that Chairman Miklos violated state ethics regulations while receiving public funds from the City of Debary to help those greedy bastards in City Hall secretly ramrod a Transportation Oriented Development on sensitive wetlands near the Gemini Springs Annex.

In December 2016, the Commission on Ethics – meeting behind closed doors – ignored the findings of their own investigators, blocked an administrative hearing regarding the allegations and acquitted John Miklos on all charges.

One would think that with Governor Rick Scott in a tight race for the United States Senate, Slick Rick would have grown tired of the near-constant embarrassment of his hand-picked chairman’s greed-crazed shenanigans – but this is Florida – the rules are different here. 

I’ve said this before, in my jaded opinion we live in the most corrupt county in the most corrupt state in the union, where the cockamamie decisions of the very ethics tribunal charged with protecting us from politicians and political appointees with a profit motive reverse the conclusions of professional investigators and thwart the process for an independent finding of fact.

In my view, it is prima facie evidence that We, The People are screwed.

I believe John Miklos, and the shameless developers he serves, epitomize the worst-of-the-worst – leeches that thrive in a system where cheap enablers and appointed fixers are permitted to subvert the rules and give their collective middle-finger to the regulatory agencies they control – all while openly destroying the environment, churning wetlands and wildlife habitat into muck, and turning our few remaining natural places into moonscapes in their brazen pursuit of the almighty dollar in a place where the ends will always justify the means.

 

Photo Credit: The Daytona Beach News-Journal

 

 

12 thoughts on “On Volusia: We’re Screwed. . . Again.

  1. Every day I wake up to news that directly effects my life in a negative way -and we are talking here about local government, not national. This news disgusted me but did not surprise me. Is their anyone left to put their foot down???

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    1. I truly believe the lack of maturity and experience in the planning and zoning department is highly responsible for our current situations. That department is severely understaffed and completely
      in capable of handling the new growth management now necessary in this area. I pray daily that the City
      Manager and Commission Board get their head out of the sand and wake to see that department
      needs more professionals. Growing Pains need experienced leadership, that does not change
      the rules and operate with just enough vagueness to wiggle out of their commitment and pass on
      their responsibilities. I have land investments that have severely stagnated due to changing the rules
      as they go. So unfair to be caught in this unfortunate mess when I just had truly the best intentions
      and goals with these real estate endeavors.
      God willing, I too hope to move out of this area. Blessings.

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  2. If an individual homeowner fills in wetlands, the SJRWMD makes them put it back to wetlands along with a fine and a lot of harassment from SJRWMD. If you’re a big company with the finances to bribe certain individuals on the board, you can do whatever you want. It’s time to drain the swamp!!! and take our county and state back.

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  3. It is sad to sit and watch these greedy people who run this county and NSB destroy everything that holds wildlife and over build. Our traffic is unbelievable and we have the same old roads. The Turnbull Bay bridge is in shambles and there is no plan except to wait for the people who have lived here some at 4 generations to pony up higher taxes to fix our infrastructure. If there was a slight change in wind with this latest fire, our house and lots of others would have burnt down. The constant burning is unhealthy and stinks up everything in sight and is not good for livestock. For all the people who buy one of these cheap express homes going in the Coastal Woods, other people are moving out of NSB. This is the swamp and it is past needing draining!

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  4. This is definitely not the most corrupt state in the union but anything to do with county business is suspect for a Pulitzer Prize in corruption.

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  5. I live not 2 miles from here I haved lived in my home since 1984 paid my taxes obeyed the laws. In all those years and with all the building they have done nothing for water control in my neighborhood. I pay more for flood insurance than home owners and in the last 2 years I keep getting info on flooding from Fema and the county still they do nothing and I pay. I am being forced to maybe having to move because of the cost. With a husband who is on disability so a fixed income and I work my butt off to survive and pay for big business. Disgusting!!!!

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  6. You are so on the money! Every time! I really wish you’d re-consider & run for office – it would be nice to have someone in there who would do something FOR the people and FOR the land for a CHANGE! I live in Ormond where the mayor thinks he’s God (along with the unanimous CC) making decisions (as per your photo in another recent article of yours) “for” Ormond Beach but NEVER HEARD A WORD THE CITIZENS HAD TO SAY – their minds were made up before we had a chance to speak – they changed zoning laws behind our backs – I’m sure people who purchased homes over in the Reflections Village area (& several others) were NOT expecting THAT – EVER. Ugh – they’re a disgrace – and unless someone runs against them (& signs up for it by next month!) we’ll be stuck w/the SSDD dudes that are in there now as they’ll be unopposed. I heard there’s ONE person running for 1 CC seat – i hope more come forward! Wish us luck! Thanks for your all your insights, man – you’re a great writer AND you make us laugh through depressing times!

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  7. It boils down to the city commission. They should “babysit” their greedy projects. They just keep putting their stamp on the go aheada and overdevelopment is booming. They said it last night at the Brannon Center meeting. They are scared to death to say no for fear of being sued ?! How ridiculous. So instead they let a lawyer and developers come into our town and ruin it. Pollute the air, overwhelm the roads.
    Oh wait, the council says that’s smart growth.
    Grow some smarts all of them. Get a darn backbone. Listen to the people. Stop this now. Back off one single more development and get all your eyes on what you have given the nod to. Someone has got to watch all of them.

    Like

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