Chairman Justin York Defends Conservation Board in Fight with State Senate

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Justin York is the newly elected Chairman of the Seminole Soil & Water Conservation Board, which finds itself embroiled in a debate with a state Senator over whether the state or local municipalities should control arbor policy.

This week, the Seminole Board issued a statement condemning what it called a pre-emption of local control over environmental issues. This was in response to an effort by some in the legislature to pass legislation that would give the state the power over regulation of the trimming, removal, or harvesting of trees and limit local governments from being able to regulate certain aspects of debris removal and burial,

State Senator Greg Steube wrote in the Orlando Sentinel that trees should be set “free from local control”, and that certain local municipalities had violated property rights. He called overreach by local governments “rampant” and cited clients he had represented in fights with local governments.

Justin York doesn’t see it that way, expressing concerns of a slippery slope of the state pre-empting other aspects of local government. York said in a statement: “Advocates for SB 574 and HB 521 argue that these bills protect constitutional rights by barring cities and counties from regulating tree removal on private property. By this logic, the Legislature might as well preempt local zoning and land usage restrictions on the same basis. We can go further and preempt local sign regulation on free speech grounds? The bottom line is that these two bills are completely at odds with that timeless principle, ‘The government closest to the people serves the people best.’”

Stay tuned with Orlando Political Observer for updates on this and other issues before the Florida legislature.

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