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Blankenship: Support Act 2005-200

By By Adam Prestridge
Escambia County is on the verge of a developmental explosion.
With projects such as Rivercane located just off Interstate 65 in Atmore sprouting and industrial development board's across the county recruiting prospects to the more than 600-acre site, Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Authority president Wiley Blankenship is concerned about the potential of eyesores.
The possibility of state-of-the-art facilities locating next door to junkyards and other environmental hazards has urged Blankenship to push the passage of Act 2005-200 on Nov. 7. If passed, the act would give the County Commission the authority over certain "health and safety" issues in the unincorporated areas of the county. These "health and safety" issues include: weeds, junkyards, litter and other rubbish, noise, pollution, unsanitary sewage and animal control.
And as projects such as Rivercane grow, it is likely that parts of the development will run adjacent to unincorporated areas of Escambia County making it likely for nuisances to arise.
"Looking at the Rivercane development specifically, if there is property that is not in the city limits, which there is not, but adjacent, I think it would be totally detrimental for a prospect if something of this nature moved in next door," Blankenship said. "If there are weeds that are 12-feet high and junk cars and other unattractive debris, it will make a difference."
Blankenship believes irresponsible residents of Escambia County are the reason Act 2005-200 is needed.
"People are the reason this proposal is needed," he said. "If they cared enough to take care of their property and be responsible, it would not be needed. This would not be necessary if people would dump tires in streams and trash in streams. There are illegal dumps in the county and this will give the county commission policing powers and other enforcement to combat these problems."
Blankenship stressed that only a few negligent homeowners, landowners and business owners are to blame.
"This law is not intended for people that are responsible law abiding citizens that respect the environment and respect their neighbors," Blankenship said.
Blankenship also believes passage of the "self governance" act will also be beneficial in teaching younger generations about respecting the environment.
"This is not all about industrial development, this is about community development," Blankenship said. "If you live in a rural area, you're still a part of the community. There's not a boundary line."
Not only does ridding the county of nuisances help draw industrial prospects, but also residential developers and families looking to relocate to Escambia County.
"We want Escambia County to be an inviting region where people would want to call their own," Blankenship said. "What we're trying to create and help create is a place Atmore and Escambia County can call home. To do that, we've got to address issues and this nuisance law helps do that."