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Commissioner not sold on land deal

POSTED: August 30, 2007 5:03 a.m.
Development plans are on the minds of many people in Liberty County, and there is no shortage of controversy when it comes to such projects.
During this month’s county commission meeting, Laura Devendorf addressed the board to briefly discuss 964 acres of land she sold known as the North Newport Plantation.
She also commented on the 2,200 acres of her land she donated to form the Springfield Legacy Foundation.
Within those 2,200 acres, Devendorf will donate the Melon Bluff nature center, and pay for the construction of education nature trails, and outdoor classrooms, she said.
To finance this project, she sold the 964 acres to the developers of the $395 million Newport Plantation project that’s expected to bring 2,000 housing units.
County Commissioner Kenny Fussell took issue with Devendorf’s comments, and claimed she was speaking hypocritically.
“In the past, the Devendorfs were vehemently against the industrial park and coastal development, and she said on many occasions the commission was raping the land by approving various developments,” Fussell said.
He spoke of how the Newport Plantation will be built near a historically African-American neighborhood with an old African-American cemetery, and he blasted her for making “outrageous” statements at the meeting in regards to the money the Devendorfs have saved the county.
He referred specifically to Devendorf saying, “We give to this county  free of charge, because of our forests every year, $5 million in water-quality control and in erosion control, and we give $1 million in air-quality control because trees clean the water, trees clean the air ... That is what we give back in tax value to the citizens of the county every single year.”
Devendorf rebutted and said her intentions are deeply rooted in environmental ideals. She also said she has personally been taking care of the cemetery mentioned by Fussell.
“I pick condoms, beer cans and remnants of marijuana butts from that cemetery, which technically, the county is responsible for,” she said.
Devendorf said Fussell’s comments are motivated by a personal vendetta since she stopped him from developing on the east side of the county a few years ago.
 

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