Located in Jacksonville, the Northeast District Office of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) will soon change its organizational structure to be consistent with the other DEP district offices and provide more responsive service to the public. DEP has already reorganized its five other district offices, located in Pensacola, Orlando, Temple Terrace, West Palm Beach and Ft. Myers, to standardize organizational structure, establish measurable performance objectives and enhance the level of service provided to the public. The Northeast District Office is responsible for the counties of Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor and Dixie. To begin the reorganization process, two leadership appointments have been announced.
Jim Maher, formerly Program Administrator of the State Lands and Environmental Resources Permitting Program, has accepted the position of Assistant Director of District Management. In his former role, Mr. Maher worked on significant wetland and submerged land issues, including the Jacksonville Port Authority’s TRAPAC Container Terminal and the reconfiguration of the Mile Point Training Wall. Mr Maher is a Registered Professional Engineer, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of North Florida.
The Northeast District has also appointed Melissa Long, presently the Program Administrator of the Water Resource Management Program, to the position of Program Administrator for the recently combined Water and Environmental Resources Permitting Program. Ms. Long, also a Registered Professional Engineer with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from Florida State University, handled significant permitting issues, such as the permit for Georgia Pacific.
Mr. Maher and Ms. Long, as demonstrated by prior experience, understand the necessity of considering the regulated community’s needs while assuring compliance with all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. Their willingness has been demonstrated on many occasions, rearranging schedules and even addressing matters during non-work hours when necessary to address unusual facilities’ needs.
While the Northeast District DEP office has often been responsive to regulated community issues, the proposed reorganization may increase the responsiveness of the office. Certainly, the above appointments are a positive step in that direction.