Friends of the Anclote River
P.O. Box 2555
Tarpon Springs, FL 34688
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, February 11, 2005 7:12 AM
Subject: Friends/Anclote group: Friends of the Anclote River
press conference on February 10
The Anclote River and its bayous have
been the central feature of Tarpon Springs from the earliest days of
Of the 62 persons who endured the several
hours of City staff advocating the approval of the Wal-mart project
before being given a chance to voice their concerns, 52 of them had
Tarpon Springs addresses. Of those citizens who spoke
in favor of the project, only one had a Tarpon Springs address.
first paragraph of the history of Tarpon Springs as briefly stated on
the Citys web site says this:
beauty and the rich natural resources of the area attracted the first
settlers to Tarpon Springs just after the Civil War.
These settlers established homes along the banks of the Anclote River
and around the inland bayous. Samuel E. Hope became
the first landholder here when he acquired property along the north
bank of the river in the mid 1860s. He
was soon followed by the Thompson and Meyers families.
first landowner in the area, Capt. Samuel Hope, was my great-great
grandfather. The Anclote River provided the means
for my ancestors and other early settlers to reach Tarpon Springs
before the advent of the railroad or the
invention of the automobile.
early life of our town centered around the river and its bayous.
provided fish for our forefathers
tables, it provided a means of transporting passengers and
freight, it provided recreation for boating, swimming, fishing, and
exploring. It provided an escape from the routine
of daily life.
the people of the state have the right to use and enjoy the navigable
waterways and the state owns the land beneath those waterways as a
local elected officials have a duty to protect our environment and to
manage the development of our city.
For reasons unknown to us, they have chosen to jeopardize the health
of the Anclote River and further jeopardize our travel on U.S. Highway
19 by approving the construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter on a large
undeveloped piece of land on the Anclote River.
consulting with attorney John Grandoff, of the firm Hill, Ward, and
Henderson, and our land use planning expert, Jan Norsoph, of the firm
of Englehardt Hammer and Associates, it is our opinion that we have a
number of strong legal grounds for the circuit court to reverse the
split decision of our city commission. We
have retained attorney Phil Campbell of the law firm of Schumaker,
Loop and Kendrick to file suit challenging the action of the Board of
mayor and commissioners who voted to approve the Wal-Mart Supercenter
in a General Business zoning district have strived in the local press
to convince the citizens that:
Only a few citizens were against the Wal-Mart project;
It is better to have us ordinary citizens sue the City than for
them to face Wal-Mart in court; and
They had no choice but to approve the Wal-Mart Supercenter
officials who voted for Wal-Mart have also tried to portray the
opposition group as being mainly outsiders - not residents
within the City limits. Even though none of us here
today have the kind of deep pockets that intimidates our City
Commission, a great number of residents in the City have contributed
funds to allow us to challenge our City Commission in court.
huge project proposed by Wal-Mart will affect many who travel along US
19 even though they may not reside in our fair City. The
monstrously large Wal-Mart Supercenter will most certainly affect those
who will see and hear the 24-hour operations of the giant store from
across a small body of water, even though they do not reside inside the
city limits. These citizens are a part of our
community; they worship with us, their children attend our schools, they
shop in our stores, they belong to our service and civic clubs.
Furthermore, many of these families are in the Tarpon Springs
Planning Area, Water/Sewer service area, and our fire department's
service area. Clearly, they have a right to be heard
in this controversy.
portray these families as outsiders is the thinnest of arguments.
those officials who supported Wal-Mart have adopted the mantra that they
were saving us from a perceived
lawsuit with the financial giant. The threat of
litigation should have no place in the decision of whether or not a
giant super store should be allowed in a General Business zoning
district. Equal protection under the laws means
nothing if it does not mean that a fair hearing requires the city to
base its decision on the evidence and not on the financial resources of
those at the hearing. Over 200 communities have
turned down WalMart Supercenters. I don't
know of any that have lost to Wal-Mart in court.
thirdly, if our city commission has no discretion in the site plan
approval process, then why go through the charade of a hearing?
Why do we elect a commission if the city's
attorney and planning staff make the decisions?
the process of speaking out against the Wal-Mart Supercenter, the many
concerned citizens have formed the Friends of the Anclote River. None of us alone has the
financial ability to fight this legal battle alone. We
have received donations from more than a hundred concerned citizens to
help us pay for our attorneys and experts. We are
asking for donations of any amount to help us fight to preserve the
natural beauty of this quaint little river that flows through our unique
and beautiful City.