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Local Residents Prevail! Judge rules against Pioneer Interchange permit!

It is our pleasure to inform you that on Monday, January 29, 2024, the Administrative Law Judge reviewing the state case against the St. Johns River Water Management District’s issuance of a permit for the destructive and costly Pioneer Trail Interchange recommended DENIAL of the Permit!  This is big news, and a big win for all Floridians!

In a 55-page ruling (which you can view here), the Judge laid out the full case, and ended by saying that the Project was NOT clearly in the Public Interest, as is required when a Project affects an Outstanding Florida Water (OFW) like Spruce Creek in Volusia County.  The Recommended Denial of the Permit means we won this round, but we must stay vigilant as it is possible that the FDOT could appeal or come back later with a modified Project.  

The next step is that the the proposed Final Order will be presented to the SJRWMD Governing Board at its March 12, 2024, meeting for final agency action.  It is important to remind everyone that “Ex Parte Communications”, either oral or written, are prohibited to the Assistant Executive Director or the Governing Board regarding the merits of the case out of the presence of all of the parties [section 120.66, Fl. Stat.].  That simply means DON’T contact the Governing Board as they prepare to decide on an action for this case (which hopefully will be to uphold and listen to the Judge’s Order, but you never know). But you ARE encouraged to attend the 3/12/24 meeting at 10:00 a.m. in Palatka (4049 Reid Street) to speak out at the Board’s public meeting, saying you want the permit denied as the Judge recommended.

The Division of Administrative Hearings case lasted nearly a year, but many of us know the fight has been much longer.  It is with deep appreciation that we thank everyone for their hard work and support, and we hope to celebrate many more wins with you in the near future.

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