County addresses bear issues

Posted on July 19, 2016 by Louis Cooper

Bear issues in South Santa Rosa County were on County Commissioners’ minds at their Monday committee meeting.
Tiffany Ackerman, state committee chairwoman for Imagine Our Florida — a non-profit group dedicated to preserving Florida’s natural resources — urged commissioners to adopt regulations requiring some residents in South Santa Rosa County to use bear-resistant garbage cans.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports that 6 percent of bear conflict calls in Florida come from Santa Rosa County.
“The southern part of the county is where most of the issues are. It’s trash related, mostly,” Ackerman said. “There’s not a lot of habitat left, and that includes their food source, so they’re coming in to neighborhoods.”
Bear-resistant garbage receptacles cost an average of $6 to $8 per month to rent, she said.
“They’re very low cost,” Ackerman said. “FWC has done surveys. People want these trash cans. They don’t want to see the bears killed. They want a solution.”
Ackerman said that $300,000 from generated by last year’s bear hunt available to counties to help cover the cost of bear-resistant cans.
“We’re not eligible for state funding unless we have some type of ordinance,” Williamson said.
He asked County Attorney Roy Andrews to look at a recent ordinance adopted by Lake County that is shorter and less intrusive than one adopted in Seminole County, which commissioners rejected earlier this year.
In other business, commissioners gave preliminary approval to the 22nd Annual Christmas in the Park, to be held at Navarre Park on Dec. 3, 2016.
At Thursday’s regular county commission meeting, commissioners conducted a public hearing on an ordinance amending the rules that govern public parks, especially those on Navarre Beach.
The proposed changes include allowing alcohol to be sold on the beach, in some circumstances, as well as allowing parking lots of be used for special events, banning all pets except for service animals and allowing parks to be used for commercial purposes when approved by the County Commission.
Also on Thursday, the Zoning Board meta at the Administrative Office Complex in Milton (after South Santa Rosa News went to press).
Items on that agenda include a request from Synovus Bank to reduce setback requirements for a 9 acre parcel on White Sands Boulevard on Navarre Beach to allow for more single-family homes to be built than would be allowed under current zoning rules. The changes would allow 12 homes