In August, Hendry County Commissioners unanimously approved the Sugar Hill Sector plan. The proposal, brought by the U.S. Sugar Corp which owns the land, calls for the creation of 18,000 new homes as well as commercial development on a 67 square mile region Southwest of Lake Okeechobee. Supporters of the plan say it could provide an economic boon for Hendry county which continues to experience one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.
Meanwhile, environmental advocates point out that the state still has an option to purchase the land. They argue that its vital for Everglades restoration and to ending the practice of releasing polluted water from Lake Okeechobee downstream, where its impacts are harmful to the environment and to local tourism and fishing industries. Last week, a consortium of environmental groups led by the Sierra Club sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott urging him not to support the plan.
Do the benefits of the Sugar Hill Sector plan for Hendry County’s economy outweigh the benefits of using the land for Everglades Restoration?