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Lee County Environmental Policy Management Office Opens

The Lee County government officially launched its new Office of Environmental Policy Management Monday.  The new advisory office is designed to assist County Manager Roger Desjarlais and senior administrative staff in future development decisions for the region.  

“As this area recovers from the economic downturn, there will be renewed development pressures on our existing vacant land,” said Director of the new Environmental Policy Management Office Holly Schwartz.

“This office will play an advisory role to the county manager regarding that managed approach to development and natural resource conservation.”

Five current county staffers with backgrounds in planning, development and natural resource permitting issues have been reassigned to the office, so the effort is expected to be revenue neutral.

The new office will not take over management of Lee County’s Conservation 20/20 program, which purchases and maintains environmentally important land.  Money for the Conservation 20/20 program to purchase additional land was used to plug a budget deficit in the current fiscal year.  Schwartz said funding for the program next year will be discussed by commissioners in a workshop sometime in the next couple of months.

The Office of Environmental Policy Management is part of a larger reorganization of county government.  “It’s an ongoing process and this initiative with the Environmental Policy Management Office is one of the first parts of that to be rolled out,” said Lee County Spokeswoman Betsy Clayton.  “We do anticipate more reorganization in the future that will make the county more customer-service oriented and align what issues we tackle with the Board policy priorities.”