City votes to delay wetlands decision

Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 at 12:54 a.m.

After wrangling over the wording of a ballot initiative on wetlands for two hours Monday night, the Gainesville City Commission voted to put off approving or rejecting it until next month.

City officials and supporters of the proposed amendment to the city's charter, which would restrict development around area wetlands, clashed over its wording.

The initiative could be placed on the April 8 ballot.

"It seems to me that we could just do a better job with the language," Commissioner Ed Braddy said.

Suggestions were made to clarify wording in the initiative, but they were shot down over concerns the changes were either imprecise, biased or unclear to voters, and could pave the way for lawsuits from people on both sides of the issue.

Instead, the commission voted 4-1 Monday night to reconsider the initiative at its Feb. 10 meeting.

Mayor Tom Bussing voted against the motion.

If approved, the amendment would keep wetlands from alteration by maintaining buffers around all city surface waters.

Supporters say the measure would protect area wetlands and surface waters. Opponents say it could restrict planners' ability to protect them.

A petition for the charter amendment was drafted and supported by a loosely knit organization of conservationists and homeowners associations.

Supporters turned in about 6,800 signatures in November - far more than the approximately 5,200 they needed to put the petition on the ballot.

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