Susan Mehiel: “Saving Vero Beach, FL”



But the announcement of the marvel project piqued the interest of smart folks outside the metro area.  Locally, this effort was promoted by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC) which includes representatives from 4 counties – Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River.

Groups of dedicated local citizens throughout the Treasure Coast began researching and talking and meeting and rallying when they learned of the real villains behind 7-50.

The Obama administration brought in lefty, regionalism advocates from around the country to fashion a massive grant program which would divide the country into regions and slowly leach all of the governance and planning out of the small towns and suburbs ending home rule.

Fortunately, people around the country figured out the end game and started fighting the HUD, DOT, EPA Sustainable Communities grants which mandated massive changes to local zoning and building codes.

In many areas including the Treasure Coast, teams of taxpayers packed city and county halls and encouraged their representatives to pull out of the program – and they did.  Here in southeast Florida, three of the seven counties voted to rescind their participation and essentially emasculated the project.

But it wasn’t over…a cornerstone in the Sustainable Communities grants is called Transit Oriented Development (TOD).  TOD calls for limiting the developable land in a municipality, changing building codes to allow for higher, larger multi-family buildings (densification), narrow roads, fewer parking spaces, more government owned land and mass transit.

In other words, the planners decide where you live, how you live and how you will move about in smaller cars or via mass transit – which controls where and when you go. …All in the name of saving the planet with your tax dollars.

Many who fought Seven 50 also led the charge to stop All Aboard Florida (AAF), realizing that AAF was just another form of TOD disguised as a private high speed rail project.

It was a known fact (and confirmed by the TCRPC) that once AAF was up and running, the central planners would add stops supported by local, state and federal taxpayer monies and use tax dollars to fund the tandem development of commuter service, Tri-Rail (operating $80 million in the red annually), all the way to Cocoa Beach.

The head of the Treasure Coast RPC, Michael Busha, was ecstatic with the prospect of AAF accomplishing what 7-50 couldn’t, “(AAF) reduces dependency on the automobile, reduces the use of fossil fuels… encourages transit, compact mixed-use development and helps contain suburban sprawl.”  So AAF was not just about freight, it was All About Real Estate…increasing new, high density real estate projects for developers along the route.


Rendering of AAF Train Station, West Palm Beach

And so we fought AAF and delayed their approvals and funding for the northern portion indefinitely, as it appears.

However, the TCRPC and central planners are not going away despite all efforts in Tallahassee to defund these turfdoms of unelected, unaccountable organizations with ties to crony businesses and land developers.  The city of Vero Beach is the latest example of the central planners and grant-hungry governments and consultants deciding to continue the TOD plan.

The concept of the Art Village is not unique to Vero Beach.  They are a way for Regional Planners to sugarcoat the changing of building codes and the implementation of the stack/pack housing – or in nice terms “mixed-use” development along with narrow streets to encourage fewer and smaller cars.  The feel good idea of blending HUD housing with artistic folks is a real winner, using our quaint community as their sacrificial lamb.

So the Vero Beach Cultural Council hired the staff at the TCRPC (with annual revenues of $2.2 million – all taxpayer money – with salaries/benefits over half of that) to conduct pseudo community input sessions.  Then they churned out the boiler plate plan which paves the way using zoning changes to implement the first phase of DOT for Vero.  Naturally, the TCRPC promised taxpayer funded grants to help with implementation.


Next, the city decided to update its Comprehensive Land Use Plan which will be a roadmap for land use and transportation through 2035.  Again, the TCRPC was there to assist the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Department and Board in rewriting it for a fee.  The new 400 page Plan was approved by the P&Z Board in April, 2017 and sent to the City Council for its approval in June.

Fortunately, for all of us, the woman who rallied the troops to stop Seven 50 and served as a lead player in stopping AAF, Phyllis Frey, has been tracking the insidious entrenchment by TCRPC and TOD.  She was there to speak out against the TCRPC while it worked its magic on the arts village and she knew what was coming with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan 2035.


Phyllis Frey

At the June 6, 2017 Vero Beach City Council meeting, Phyllis was joined by a number of residents to point out the flaws in the plan.  She gave a detailed review of the most egregious problems with the Land Use Plan including:

  • Mixed-use density is being increased from 17 dwelling units and 30 rooms, to 21 dwelling units and an uncapped number of rooms…Commercial density is up to 15 dwelling units from 8
  • The FAR or Floor Area Ratio – the ratio of building floor space to the size of the lot – increases in every zoning category.
  • The city shall rezone all land consistent with the changes
  • …developers will be offered bonus incentives in return for implementing a mixed-use, high density plan
  • All mid to large development will be confined to Transit Boundaries
  • The city will provide multi-modal transit and “shall investigate bringing passenger rail service to Vero Beach to enhance mixed-use development.”

As Phyllis explained to the City Council, the plan increases the number of units and structure size allowable per acre.  It restricts building out and encourages building UP and necessitates an increase in height limits.

From the reactions of the City Council members, the Comprehensive Land Use Plan 2035 would have been rubber stamped had it not been for a group of vocal, dedicated residents.  Wisely, the City Council decided to schedule a future workshop to discuss the plan before voting on its acceptance.

This is a perfect example of bureaucrats and central planners using the propaganda of saving the planet in order to gain control. TOD is the new directive of regionalists and we WILL have more units on less buildable land.  We WILL pay for expensive mass transit and force people out of their cars.  And don’t believe the propaganda that this is what future generations will want.  As the Wall Street Journal reported in a 2015 article Generation Y Prefers Suburban Home Over City Condo,  “…based on responses from 1,506 people born since 1977, most want to live in single-family homes outside of the urban center.”

If we don’t stay awake and engaged in local governance, we will wake up one day to high-rise buildings chock-a-block along 14th Avenue with electric car charging stations instead of garages. Walking or biking to your destination will be required…uh, ‘encouraged’.  We stopped Seven 50, we’ve stalled the trains, now we need an army to save Vero Beach.


Susan Mehiel, a retired marketing executive, has lived in Vero Beach for 23 years and has spent the last four years raising awareness about the negative impact of All Aboard Florida.







25 thoughts on “Susan Mehiel: “Saving Vero Beach, FL”

  1. To quote the Seven50 central planners, this initiative is about the mass “steering of populations.” For trusted information on this national agenda see : Regional planning only gives the appearance of being an elected body and is NOT our system of representative government.
    Many thanks to Phyllis and Susan!
    Stephanie Austin

    See You Tube: Tyranny in Florida: Seven50 Exposed – From a lecture by the “Father of New Urbanism”, Andres Duany as he spoke to the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council…..

    • Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company have been leaders in the spread of Traditional Neighborhood Design communities throughout the USA and abroad. They pioneered the charrette process that enables “stakeholders” to play a major role in community development.

      This is the very process followed to plan for the Vero Beach Cultural Arts Village (CAV) within the Old Downtown neighborhood of Edgewood. The CAV will help preserve and enhance the traditional neighborhood character of Old Downtown.

      • Charrette is code for the Delphi technique. Hold a public in-put session and put 2 trained people at each table. Those people are trained to guide the discussion so that the participants reach the conclusion you want or, if they balk, give up trying and go along with the program. Having moderated focus groups for a living, I know very well how you can steer a discussion so get the desired outcome.

        Everyone leaves feeling they got their point across and whatever the outcome…they agree. Of particular interest in the Art Village Charrettes was the rule that no one could ask “how much will it cost?” Don’t ya love it?

      • Since the “reply” to “smehiel” isn’t displaying, I’d like to use this opportunity to respond to Susan’s statements on the meaning of a “Charrette”.

        I cannot share Susan’s jaundiced view. Yes, it COULD be abused for that purpose. But the charrette is designed to find out what stakeholders (residents, other town citizens, other interested parties such as the town governing officials, planners, etc.) want and to guide a process by which a plan can be established to turn that vision into reality.

        It is common with such “brainstorming” activities to NOT consider “cost” at that stage, because it is an initial process designed to create the “wants” and the “musts” of that which is desired.

        Later on when the plan is being finalized, costs and the feasibility of the “wants” are addressed.

        This is an entirely reasonable process routinely used by DPZ in developing the concepts for traditional neighborhood communities (e.g., Habersham, SC; Rosemary Beach, FL, etc.).

        While it is true, the process could be abused, it is unlikely and that did NOT happen here in Vero Beach.

      • It should be displaying. Check again. Since you write frequent comments they are automatic. Thomas Hardy

        On Thu, Jun 15, 2017 at 10:45 PM, Vero Communiqué wrote:


      • Thanks… not every reply to a comment has a “REPLY” link. At least not from my view. No problem. I can always do what I did…

        Thanks for looking into this.

  2. The major misunderstanding contained in this article is the claim that the Vero Beach Cultural Arts Village has ANYTHING to do with advancing the agenda of the regional planning council to address mass transit issues.

    The Cultural Arts Village (CAV) proposal originated in a desire to stop the deterioration of the Edgewood Neighborhood, a traditional neighborhood within the Old Downtown section of Vero Beach.

    The CAV proposal has always been a cooperative effort initiated jointly by the Cultural Council of Indian River County (CCIRC) and residents of the Edgewood Neighborhood and enthusiastically supported within both Edgewood and surrounding neighborhoods. It is a local effort to retain the traditional neighborhood character of Edgewood while lowering crime and creating a destination for those who appreciate art in its many forms (visual, performing, culinary).

    The ONLY involvement of the TCRPC has been its limited role to facilitate, in response to a request for assistance, a charrette process that helped Edgewood residents, residents of other nearby neighborhoods, civic-minded residents of the county, the CCIRC and Vero Beach’s own planning office in defining the characteristics of the CAV consistent with retaining the historic nature of that neighborhood while encouraging uses that are complimentary with the objectives of the CAV located adjacent to Vero Beach’s existing Arts District along 14th Avenue.

    The TCRPC did not force any inappropriate requirements on the CAV plan. Indeed, their only role was to help focus the vision so that a locally-derived plan could be developed to enable the CAV to flourish.

    The TCRPC offered planning expertise based on personal experience with other arts villages. They facilitated a very productive charrette process where local people created the framework for seeking appropriate land use changes strictly designed to achieve the mutual objectives of neighborhood residents, the CCIRC, and the arts community, consistent with guidance from Vero Beach. Once the charrette process concluded, the involvement of the TCRPC was concluded.

    From the beginning, both the CCIRC and local neighborhood residents have spoken to the Vero Beach City Council on numerous occasions to keep them informed of the progress and what might be needed in terms of zoning adjustments to facilitate the creation of the arts village.

    Local residents, the CCIRC, and Vero Beach’s own planning officials have worked diligently to establish this CAV so that it retains the character of the original Edgewood Neighborhood (a traditional neighborhood design).

    It is important that we distinguish Frey’s and Mehiel’s objections to the City’s proposed Plan from planning for the CAV that does not include high-rise or high-density uses inconsistent with current established uses.

    I don’t want this comment misunderstood as opposition to any legitimate objections that Frey or Mehiel have raised. My sole intent was to clarify that the Cultural Arts Village proposal for the Edgewood Neighborhood of Old Downtown is not a creation of the TCRPC and it is not consistent with high-rise or higher-density uses that Frey and Mehiel oppose.

    The CAV plan makes no mass transit accommodations.

    The CAV plan does not provide for either high-density or high-rise uses inconsistent with the historic traditional neighborhood within the Edgewood Neighborhood.

    It is most unfortunate that both Frey and Mehiel have apparently misunderstood the nature and genesis of the CAV proposal. Ironically, the CAV envisions exactly what Frey and Mehiel want to preserve, appropriate density and uses for traditional neighborhoods such as the Edgewood Neighborhood of Old Downton.

  3. The Art Village would be great if:
    It doesn’t cost any taxpayer money
    It doesn’t require changes to the existing Vero Beach zoning codes, including building heights
    Grants with strings attached aren’t used
    HUD housing isn’t built without all taxpayers knowing about it and approving.
    If private homeowners and developers want to invest in the project, great.
    I believe completely in private property rights. You should be Ble to build on your land and no one should be able to tell you it is now outside the transit boundaries so you can’t build on it.

    • Susan,

      The Cultural Arts Village will not require any more expenditure of tax dollars than any other neighborhood whose basic infrastructure is being supported by city taxes.

      There is no requirement to increase building heights, but reasonable adjustments to allow uses compatible with arts villages would be required. These are NOT requirements or related in ANY WAY with regional transit planning initiatives.

      There are no grants with strings attached being applied for from the regional planning office. The only strings associated with grants that may be applied for are the same ones that are normally put on any grant (e.g., reporting requirements how grant is being used, assurance it is used for the arts village purpose intended, etc.).

      There is NOTHING relating to HUD requirements sought for the arts village. If the new zoning plan has any building height changes or HUD requirements, they are entirely divorced from anything the arts village is seeking.

      Private homeowners and other private arts-related investors will be investing in the project. It does not seek public funds for it’s creation or maintenance. It only seeks reasonable zoning accommodations in certain neighborhood sections for reasonable use changes to allow activities typically found in arts villages.

      Please keep in mind that one of the major objectives is to retain the original character of the traditional neighborhood design of the Edgewood neighborhood. That includes architectural styles consistent with the Old Downtown’s heritage architecture. However, there is no intent to do this in an overbearing manner, rather, it is intended as helpful guidance for owners to maximize the value of their character homes, something that improves values for everyone.

      Transit boundaries are entirely independent of the effort to create a Cultural Arts Village in Vero Beach’s Old Downtown Edgewood Neighborhood. To the extent that any such planning may exist, it is entirely independent of the CAV proposal. Each should be considered on their own merits and not confused or conflated with each other.

      I hope this helps you better understand, Susan.

      In the interests of full disclosure, I am a member of the Cultural Arts Leadership Team. The CALT has worked very closely with the Edgewood neighborhood (some residents are key members of the CALT) and we have interacted closely with public officials to keep them abreast of the proposal and to learn what zoning issues might be helpful to protect the Edgewood neighborhood’s character and enhance the use of that neighborhood to support local resident and visiting artists.

      As you may know, Susan, I am a strong advocate of having the greatest power reserved for the most local governing bodies. I am not an advocate for ceding power to outside entities, however, that doesn’t mean that available resources cannot be tapped on the terms of the local community and done so without any “strings” attached.

  4. From the public record, in Tim McGarry’s on words, “It wasn’t until we hired a paid consultant that we were able to completely overhaul the Comprehensive Land Use 2035 Plan.” When asked for the public record why the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council was invited to redevelop our town, City Manager Jim O’Connor, “Because they can get the grants.” Dana Little, a Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council’s paid consultant was hired to offer “technical assistance” to the cultural council under the guise of creating an art village. The end result? A complete re-write of our Comprehnsive Land Use 2035 Plan, one that would control how and where we live, develop and travel for the next 18 years.
    The 400-page CLU document is right out of the TCRPC’s playbook. Visit the TCRPC’s website and you will find that their master plan to redevelop ALL communities in the seven-county region BEGINS with art villages. It is the gateway for the TCRPC to insinuate itself into our communities and our zoning laws. Anyone who hasn’t read the Seven 50 plan is woefully uninformed. The TCRPC’s agenda is clearly spelled out in its January, 2017 document, Southeast Florida’s Transit Oriented Development Grant Program. The bait for city councils is a $860K grant (taxpayer monies) for complying with the plan. Another $205K is offered to any DEVELOPER willing to implement the plan.
    After attending the TCRPC meetings for two years, including their charrettes for the indoctrination of the public to sell their cookie-cutter plan, their open forums and their summits in every key town in the seven southeast counties, their agenda remains clear. Their purpose holds to rezone each community for population densification within a transit corridor—IN THEIR OWN WORDS. The Michael Busha’s, the Andre’ Duany’s, and the Victor Dover Kohls from Chicago’s Congress of New Urbanism were born from Barack Obama’s Sustainable Communities document. In Victor Dover’s own words, “Sell your product for densification to the people. We must change their behavior.”
    Ms. Mehiel mentions the Delphi technique. I have seen it repeatedly used by the TCRPC propagandists. It is an uncomfortable feeling to see the poorest and most vulnerable among us—the poor in Gifford for example which was recently achieved at a charrette—only 9 people from the public attended, and starving artists who are manipulated into conforming to a master plan that will primarily benefit the developers and densify our once small communities. What better way to control a communities’ development than to re-write their Comprehensive Land Use Plan? As a result of the re-write, five neighborhoods were slated for densification including Old Downtown, Royal Palm Point, Beachland Boulevard, U.S. 1, Oceanside and Miracle Mile using mixed-use rezoning. This is not about an Art Village. The art village guise is the gateway for implementation of a regional master plan that benefits the developers such as Victor-Dover-Kohl, Andre’ Duany and any local developer willing to carry their water at the taxpayers’ expense for the upfront grants dangled like a piece of cheese in front of a rat. Yes, these masters know how to make you sit and beg for what you want and no deception or charade is to elaborat to satisfy their greed. To them, our city is low-hanging fruit ready for the picking.

    Fortunately, we have an educated city council that defends home rule of law.

    • Phyllis,

      When you wrote, “Dana Little, a Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council’s paid consultant was hired to offer ‘technical assistance’ to the cultural council under the guise of creating an art village.” you were correct UNTIL “under the guise of creating an art village.”

      Substitute for those words, “to facilitate a process by which local citizens could create an arts village.”, and you would have been accurate.

      As written, you have conflated two entirely different and unrelated issues (“redevelop our town [using] grants” with the local process by which a cultural arts village will be created) simply because both had some thread touching the TCRPC. That does not mean there is a thread between your concerns and the needs addressed for the CAV.

      The relatively minor zoning issues that need to be addressed for the CAV were done at the same time that a mandatory updating of Vero Beach’s master plan was required (by the state). The State of Florida requires all master plans to periodically be reviewed. That doesn’t mean they must be changed, but they must be reviewed.

      Had a review of Vero Beach’s master plan not have been required, the CAV would have independently asked for the minor zoning adjustments needed as a separate activity. For common sense and efficiency reasons, the CAV requirements were included by town planners simultaneously with the required master plan review.

      Please do not conflate, on that coincidental basis, the CAV’s minor zoning change requirements with any sweeping changes being sought by other entities.

      The use of the TCRPC to facilitate the CAV charrette is consistent with Duany Plater-Zyberk’s strategy for developing (or saving) the traditional neighborhood character of primarily (but not exclusively) residential neighborhoods.

      It is mistaken to extrapolate expert guidance provided by the TCRPC during the CAV charrette with ANY transit-oriented requirements that may or may not be being sought by the TCRPC.

      I hope this is clear to you so that you don’t continue to drag the CAV into something it has no part in.

      It is particularly unfortunate when the CAV is linked inappropriately to other designs of the TCRPC when, in fact, the things you’ve identified (higher density, higher buildings, loss of local control) are wholly inconsistent with the success of the CAV. Indeed, while I cannot personally speak for them, I believe the very Edgewood neighbors seeking this CAV would likely share your concerns about loss of home rule.

      Please lend your support to saving the character and revitalizing the Edgewood neighborhood by ceasing to co-mingle the two entirely divorced issues.

      I believe your obviously strong desire to defend home rule is shared by everyone who is working diligently to make the Vero Beach Cultural Arts Village in the Edgewood neighborhood become a reality.

  5. Why not let Dana Little, the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council’s planner, in his own words explain precisely what the art village is really about? More on that later.

    But first, a little history. I have accurately predicted what was really going on starting in 2012 when the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council flew into town under the radar on a consent agenda, trolling for partakers in the $4.5 million HUD grant to implement their Seven 50 plan (see their website) to control all development and transportation in seven counties for 50 years. Three educated counties, IRC, SLC, MC and their cities sent them packing.

    Fast forward to February, 2017 to their document “South Florida Transit Oriented Development Grant Program. Here we are again with their agenda in full print (Google it). It states that all planning through this grant program will be provided by the TCRPC. It states that all local land development regulations, zoning codes and Comprehensive Plan amendments will provide for developers in establishing community standards for design, form, scale and character, outlining all REGULATIONS and requirements.
    This document could not be clearer in stating IN THEIR OWN WORDS, what their agenda is and how they intend to change zoning through amending Comprehensive Land Use FOR DEVELOPERS.

    But back to Dana Little, the hired TCRPC consultant. Tim McGarry, head of Planning & Development spoke of him when he said, “It wasn’t until we hired a consultant that we were able to completely overhaul our Comprehensive Land Use Plan.”

    Dana Little stated to Barbara Hoffman in a Cultural Arts video (available on You Tube), “What it really comes to is MODIFYING LOCAL ZONING REGULATIONS, for instance, live/work zoning.” Translation: live/work is a euphemism for MIXED-USE rezoning. He goes on. “Ultimately it will build interest for DEVELOPERS. It’s a blueprint for how to move POLICY forward. The art village VISION translates into POLICY.”

    As a develper, I can see why you view the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council so favorably. After all, you’ll be working hand-in-glove together. Frankly, I have always been dismayed to see the poorest and most vulnerable among us being manipulated and turned into useful tools for the sake of furthering the TCRPC’s agenda. These bureaucrats are experts at this. It can all be distilled into one word: MONEY. Dana Little is not here out of the goodness of his heart and a $1,500 payment by the Art Council (Resolution 2015). That’s hilarious.
    He is here to do what the TCRPC sent him to do, to further the TCRPC’s agenda and there is plenty of money to be made and yes, there will be grants involved (in their own words in the SFTODG document). To deny the facts would be facile.
    The TCRPC already has its fingers in our land through a $500K EPA grant in Gifford. Our own Marine Commission has been duped into thinking the city of Vero Beach’s own planners are incapable of knowing what to do with the Three Corners property. The TCRPC’s fingerprints are all over our Comprehensive Land Use 2035 Plan and we’re expected to believe they are here to create an “art village?” The TCRPC is here to pay off the developers with taxpayer monies to implement their plan. By the way, these are the same people who put their time and money into promoting All Aboard Florida. They do not care about our living preferences, our quality of life and they certainly do not respect home rule of law.
    Save the smoke and mirrors for someone else, not me.

    • Phyllis,

      You continue to confuse two entirely different issues (cultural arts village & a required review of the City’s Comprehensive Master Plan) and then grossly misrepresent the truth.

      Ask Tim McGarry, don’t just continue misrepresenting.

      First Error: You wrote (yet again), “But back to Dana Little, the hired TCRPC consultant. Tim McGarry, head of Planning & Development spoke of him when he said, ‘It wasn’t until we hired a consultant that we were able to completely overhaul our Comprehensive Land Use Plan.’”

      The City hiring a consultant to help “overhaul our Comprehensive Land Use Plan” is NOT the same as Dana Little being hired to facilitate creation of the Vero Beach Cultural Arts Village (CAV) in the Old Downtown Edgewood Neighborhood. Two entirely different and distinct events you’ve creatively spun into a single nefarious scheme. That’s also known as taking license with the truth.

      Second (major) Error: You wrote, “Dana Little stated to Barbara Hoffman in a Cultural Arts video (available on You Tube), ‘What it really comes to is MODIFYING LOCAL ZONING REGULATIONS, for instance, live/work zoning.’ Translation: live/work is a euphemism for MIXED-USE rezoning. He goes on. ‘Ultimately it will build interest for DEVELOPERS. It’s a blueprint for how to move POLICY forward. The art village VISION translates into POLICY.’”

      Your “translation” is a far-tetched figment of a vivid imagination and does NOT reflect reality. You are seeing bogeymen where none exist and you have deliberately misrepresented the terms to suit your own agenda for an entirely separate issue.

      What Dana said is correct, but not in the grossly out-of-context image in which you view it.

      And “live/work” zoning is not a “euphemism” for anything except, perhaps, in your own imagination. There is nothing wrong with “live/work” and “mixed-use” zoning to allow residents to have studios for art and living space in a Cultural Arts Village. Appropriate zoning adjustments within the CAV will allow creation of “live work” residences where artists can both live and have a studio to teach or practice their form of art. This is NOT a nefarious scheme and your characterizations are grossly misleading.

      Of course, “policy” must be moved forward for the City to acknowledge and lend approval to the CAV proposal and the minor zoning adjustments required to facilitate that change. You treat the word “policy” as if it were a demon. It isn’t. Having policy is a necessary part of good government. Proponents of the CAV have been diligently keeping the City Council informed and working with its Planner.

      Are you suggesting there has been a concerted effort to bamboozle the City Council and, until you stepped forward, the Council was falling for some nefarious scheme masquerading as a cultural arts village proposal? That is the stuff of tinfoil hats. You damage your own credibility by finding conspiracies where none exist.

      The CAV is only seeking LOCAL zoning regulations (isn’t local control what you want?) within the Edgewood neighborhood that are needed to allow the special character of an arts village to be created in one of our heritage neighborhoods that can still be saved, preserved, and revitalized consistent with the original neighborhood’s character and the City’s Comprehensive Master Plan.

      CAV zoning changes would be very localized (e.g., within portions of the Edgewood neighborhood NOT throughout the city!). Clearly, when Little spoke to Hoffman, he was referring to the need for reasonable local zoning changes within the Edgewood neighborhood to allow for the creation of the Vero Beach Cultural Arts Village (CAV). Your characterization is a gross misrepresentation.

      Traditional Neighborhood Design is not a nefarious tool of “new urbanism” designed to destroy our local control over planning. It is a pushback against suburban sprawl and the decline of the character of our city’s heritage neighborhoods.

      Have you walked through the Edgewood neighborhood?

      Have you spoken with any of the neighborhood leaders who are championing the creation of the CAV?

      Have you listened to them describe how the CAV would help rid their neighborhood of crime, improve quality of life, and offer a bright new opportunity to many ordinary people who appreciate the arts?

      Have you spoken with CCIRC Executive Director Barbara Hoffman or ANY of the CCIRC Leadership Team members who’ve been working with Edgewood residents to create the CAV?

      Are you familiar with the character of the Edgewood neighborhood?

      Have you considered the CAV’s benefits to current residents who’ve worked to restore the character of their homes and their neighborhood?

      Have you sat down with ANY of the many people who’ve been working diligently to create the CAV to benefit current residents and make the Edgewood neighborhood appeal to a range of potential new neighbors from young couples and retirees to artists who want to live and, yes, WORK, in their own studies?

      I suggest you look at one of Southern Living Magazine’s favorite Traditional Neighborhood communities (Habersham, in South Carolina near Beaufort) where you will find a variety of neighborhoods built around a traditional American neighborhood (a DPZ community that arose out of the charrette process) that includes mixed use areas where live/work units create the heart of the “village” concept. You can go online to to familiarize yourself with how such communities can be nurtured with good local planning and zoning policy.

      I urge you to reconsider your continued lumping of two entirely different issues into one. In failing to separate the two, you are doing a grave disservice to our community as well as your own credibility.

      Finally, you ended with, “Save the smoke and mirrors for someone else, not me.”

      I suggest the “smoke and mirrors” are of your own fabrication.

      The smoke you smell is from the smoldering ashes of the truth you have burnt to a crisp.

      The mirror is the one you need to look deeply into before you continue to reiterate the same false narrative about the genesis and intent of the cultural arts village.

      The fabric of your conspiracy theory is spun from a combination of a smattering of truth intermixed with monumental fictions that are a convenient creation of your own imagination designed to use your opposition to the CAV as a vehicle to advance your agenda for an entirely unrelated issue (the role of TCRPC in shaping the City’s Comp Plan).

      The fabric you’ve spun in which you’ve tried to wrap the CAV is too weak to hold water.

      I ask you again. Please re-examine your premises. They could never be supported in a court of law where they would be seen for what they are… part truth, part fiction, woven into a convenient yet entirely false yarn.

  6. I support having an art village. I support the arts. I invest in art. I support improving neighborhoods.
    I do not think it wise to use an art village as a template for rezoning as a form-based blueprint overlay plan, rezoning for mixed-use (population densification) in Old Downtown, Royal Palm Point, Miracle Mile, U.S. 1, Beachland Boulevard and Oceanside.

    Know this: The TCRPC is wholly involved with the redevelopment of our city. TCRPC’s planner Dana Little, in his own words, described the Vision Plan as a redevelopment plan verbatim “The Vision translates into POLICY. POLICIES are laws put into our Comp Plan that we will have to live by for the next 18 years.
    If you spent time researching the TCRPC’s documents, their mission statement, their agenda, their end game and just imagine, actually attending their meetings, you would learn the truth. The facts are there for anyone to access. They spell out their agenda clearly, in plain english and it is published in their documents and on their website. Developer Victor Dover wants to continue to work hand-in-glove, supported by the TCRPC, to realize his dream statement made here in our county chamber on public record in 2012: “We intend to bring millions of passengers from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami to use your parks and beaches.” What self-serving developer wouldn’t want an extreme influx of people to occupy his housing developements? His right-hand architect from Communist Cuba regarding the Seven 50 plan said to our cities: “If you secede from us we will crush you.” Gee, this sounds a little like hard ball.
    Unless you are completely delusional, you already know the truth and the endgame. Nothing prejudices or blinds a person like greed and money. Nothing matters but the money that will be made by the developers on the taxpayers dime, just like All Aboard Florida which you so avidly supported. Clearly you are ready and willing to do the TCRPC’s bidding. They will provide the grants for you, just like their document says, and they will tell you how and where to build.
    The negative impact on our once-small community will be unfortunate. The legacy of overdevelopment and densification will define Vero Beach as just one more congested cookie-cutter duplicate of other “planned cities” that fell under the APA’s form-based mandates. The deception is transparent.
    Find the useful idiots you need to sell the propaganda and the plan. There is no shortage. Marketing proved a long time ago that people can be convinced to do anything. When the parasites have sucked us dry of our land use rights and we have a community that we no longer recognize and do not want, you’ll be waving Amtrak in for a train stop to implement the TCRPC’s Transit Oriented Development Grant Program. This is completely predictable and transparent. After all, Dana Little said it himself. “We want to give developers predictability. Our planning effort has been to guide the future development of the neighborhoods.”
    They have laid out the full-length story line. We know where this is going. I’ve done my homework. How it begins is almost incidental because, as any good Marxist knows, the ends justify the means.
    These interventions into neighborhoods by the likes of Victor Dover and his ilk are among the biggest developers in the country. They are well organized and know how to insinuate themselves into neighborhoods in order to get zoning changes made. These are the pros. The send their minions like Dana Little in to soften up the sheeple with a tidy Utopian dream. All it takes is some rezoning changes for higher density and if they find a supplicant city council, the charter can be changed to raise the building heights too. What a bonus! Just convince the lemmings that its all about cleaning up neighborhoods for the “folk” and throw in a starter grant or two to make it happen like magic. Getting a small, special interest group ginned up isn’t hard. Prey upon the poor and it will make you feel better that you are doing something good for them. Promise them improved neighborhoods and make them believe that you are here out of the goodness of your heart. Right. The end game has nothing to do with helping the poor. It has everything to do with helping the developers take a big piece of the real estate pie. Can you taste it already? Go ahead, have another piece.

    • Phyllis,

      I am glad to see you write: “I support having an art village. I support the arts. I invest in art. I support improving neighborhoods.”

      So you should be supportive of the Vero Beach Cultural Arts Village creation.

      You continued, “I do not think it wise to use an art village as a template for rezoning as a form-based blueprint overlay plan, rezoning for mixed-use (population densification) in Old Downtown, Royal Palm Point, Miracle Mile, U.S. 1, Beachland Boulevard and Oceanside.”

      I agree with you.

      But that is NOT what is being done.

      The proposals for zoning changes for the Arts Village was not to extend beyond the Edgewood neighborhood and, in fact, some zoning changes would even be localized within the Edgewood neighborhood (i.e., not pertaining to the entire neighborhood).

      I understand your concerns.

      Please understand that the requirements for the Arts Village are only being sought for areas within the Arts Village and do not involve the high density changes about which you are concerned.

      Would you support the Arts Village if you were satisfied that it was not the vehicle for subterfuge by the TCRPC and that it did not create the high density/high-rise uses you oppose (and, I am quite confident, would also be strongly opposed by Edgewood residents)?

      It would be better for all if we worked together to assure the Arts Village was created with zoning adjustments that supported the vision intended and did not open the door to abuses. If you could agree to work with us, you might benefit from greater support for the TCRPC issues that concern you.

      • Bob,

        I am deeply heartened by your invitation to participate in the art village project. Please know that I have close friends who are successful artists in our community. I am also blessed to have close friends who happen to be developers. I am privileged to have lived life on a global scale and therefore understand the breadth and scope of humankind on many cultural as well as business levels.
        Like others who are fortunate to do so, I can live anywhere in our beautiful world, but as a final resting place, I chose Vero as home. Love for sense of place provides context and perspective when viewed upon a canvas that spans a lifetime. We have in Vero a precious, incomparable gift. The founders of our city gave us a birthright I’m not sure we deserve. Nevertheless, we are assigned as stewards to protect it and leave a legacy that preserves the core values of their original intent.
        Surely you must know by now how protective I feel. My sentiments, my passions in this regard are not unique. But the fact that this community as a whole shares those sentiments and those core values IS TRULY UNIQUE.
        However the art village scenario unfolds, I can only hope that those who have the “vision” understand the perniciousness of outside influences driven solely by money, not art. If my worldly pursuits have taught me nothing else, it is that dreams and visions are a sacred thing, but dreams can be manipulated and used by others with only their self interests in mind.
        To whomever we owe credit to the phrase, “Ignorance is bliss,” give credit where it is due. I was truly much happier before I became educated—before I knew the facts, before I knew the truth. Because I truly love this community, I would be wholly remiss if I did not act with an abundance of caution and share those facts with the public. I can only act upon the facts, and every rational portion of my being has taught me there is undeniably, a documented agenda underway, an irrefutable plan laid out designed by those who are determined to take from us that birthright which was so generously bestowed upon us when our fair city was formed. I cannot in good conscience abandon common sense when the facts are so clearly laid out. For all the world to know, I make the most adamant distinction between my support for an art village and my disdain for the TCRPC. It is extremely importatant that this be understood.

        At the outset, I am grateful for our open and honest discussions. We are all a part of this wonderful community. May we proceed with open minds, keeping our hearts in the right place with a clear vision for the future.

        Best regards,
        Phyllis Frey

      • Phyllis,

        It is nice to learn something about your background. It certainly explains your passion to protect the character of this wonderful community.

        I believe it is safe to say that the people working on this Arts Village project are dedicated to retaining the original character of the Edgewood neighborhood… indeed, restoring that character where it has been lost and making it easier for people who love the arts to bring back some of the lost character while they live and/or enjoy the improvements that creating the arts village will bring to Edgewood.

        If you would like to work with us, I’m sure we’d be happy to have someone with your enthusiasm and energy work with us. Your perspective can be quite helpful in moving forward with appropriate zoning adjustments so that residents and artists (and resident artists) can both live and, in the case of artists, work, in the Edgewood arts village.

        We’re in the phone book (Bob & Joanne) and you can contact me or speak with Barbara Hoffman at the CCIRC office on 14th Avenue if you’d like to learn more, or discuss this at greater length with people who are working to make the Arts Village a reality.


        Bob Webster

      • Bob,
        There is no doubt that many devout and dedicated people are working in earnest to create a special place in the heart of Vero known as an art village. I sincerely appreciate your invitation to join in the effort. For me, it is unfortunate that the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council is involved in the planning of the art village. This fact precludes any possibility that I could become involved in supporting what is in fact, the TCRPC’s agenda. Their plan begins with the art village and is being incorporated and expanded into our Comprehensive Land Use 2035 Plan, one that will control how and where we live, build, develop and travel for the next 18 years in our entire city. As an American, I cannot support this. I hope you will understand. All the best to those who feel this plan is about an art village. I wish them every success.
        Best regards,

      • Phyllis,

        I’m sorry you feel that you cannot work with us to create the best arts village in the state.

        The TCRPC ONLY served as a “facilitator” in a charrette process whereby local stakeholders were guided through the process, a process that had nothing to do with the Seven/50 monster and was ultimately based on what local citizens viewed as the best approach for an arts village. No high-rises are to be allowed. No changes to density to allow higher density developments. And Dana Little has had very good experience with other arts villages and his help was invaluable based on his prior experience with arts villages… none of which have higher density or high-rise uses as a consequence. There was nothing said about any transit-oriented or TCRPC objectives. It was ONLY about creating an art village for Vero Beach under LOCAL control and determined by LOCAL officials and LOCAL zoning authorities.

        When the charrette process was over, the contribution of Dana Little and the TCRPC was concluded.

        I would hope you look over those documents that came out of the charrette process. I believe you wouldn’t find anything objectionable in the product of that process.

        What is it in “their” plan that you believe “begins with the art village”?

        Whatever is in Vero Beach’s Comprehensive Land Use 2035 Plan, it isn’t justified by the arts village.

        Whatever is needed by the arts village in the Edgewood neighborhood, it is entirely divorced from other aspects of the Comprehensive Land Use 2035 Plan.

        I urge you to carefully review every aspect of the actual arts village proposal to better understand exactly what is and what it is not.

        NOTHING in that proposal is designed to facilitate the things you fear most. Because the people working this process actually share your desire for local control over zoning and development.

        I am sorry to hear that you do not think you can work with us based on your evident misunderstanding relating to the impact of the arts village on the 2035 Plan.

        I believe that is a loss for everyone.

        Until this came up, the arts village was a win for everyone… and it still will be. It’s a shame it cannot be a win for your cause, too. All because of a misunderstanding you continue to have concerning the nature and purpose of the arts village.

        If you change your mind, you know how to contact me. I would welcome an opportunity to meet with you and Susan to talk about this at greater length and in greater detail. I am genuinely interested in your concerns and would like to help you better understand the limited nature of the impact of the arts village on the 2035 Plan.


        Bob Webster

      • Bob,

        No one regrets it more than I. I love this community, its people, its beauty.

        As a friend, I urge you to read the 400-page Comprehenisive Land Use 2035 Plan. It is straight out of the TCRPC’s playbook. It is THE implementation of Seven 50. It’s rezoning POLICIES are the laws we will build, develop and travel by for the next 18 years. They are severe. If you care about the art village as I know you do, you will not miss reading this document and understanding its effect. It is a complete re-write (by a paid consultant) of our former Comp Plan, a complete departure from the way Vero Beach has developed through slow growth until now. The new document will control every aspect of what happens through population densification under mixed-use rezoning not only in the art village but in five districts throughout our city. Dana Little has established the footprint. Now all he needs to do is wait for the Comp Plan to change the zoning laws. All part of the plan.
        It isn’t about the art village affecting the 2035 Comp Plan as you say. It is about the Comp Plan affecting the art village.
        Once you read and understand the document, get back to me. As a developer, the Housing Element surely will not escape your notice, in case you haven’t noticed already. McGarry says he has developers “lined up at his door, chomping at the bit.” Are you one of them?


      • Phyllis,

        If, “the 400-page Comprehenisive Land Use 2035 Plan… is straight out of the TCRPC’s playbook… [and] is THE implementation of Seven 50 [and] It’s rezoning POLICIES are the laws we will build, develop and travel by for the next 18 years [and] They are severe. “, then I can assure you they have little to do with the arts village and, I suspect, would be strongly opposed by the entire Vero Beach community.

        I am glad you understand, “It isn’t about the art village affecting the 2035 Comp Plan as you say. It is about the Comp Plan affecting the art village”, because that hasn’t been apparent.

        I will read the Plan (I assume it is available online).

        Regarding, “[Tim] McGarry [Vero Beach City Planner] says he has developers ‘lined up at his door, chomping at the bit.’” I would like to understand the context of that statement before passing judgement.

        And, “Are you one of them?”

        Not even close. I lived in New Hampshire for several years and “restored” (saved from demolition) two early 19th-century homes, updated another, and proposed a historic district to save the character of the old village center. I was briefly a member of a Planning Board in NH and served as a member of the governing body of a rural NJ township where I was liaison (and a member) of the Land Use (planning and zoning) Board and liaison to the school board before moving to Florida. As a member of the Vero Beach Opera Board of Directors and a member of the CCIRC’s “Leadership Team”, I continue to support both the arts and my interest in preservation of our heritage neighborhoods.

        I am a strong supporter of local control over all aspects of government, including the public school system. So I support any effort to resist ceding control over local planning and zoning to regional commissions whose expertise should always be advisory and never compulsory.

        But there is a line that needs to be drawn within the community when we talk about “local control”… such control cannot ultimately devolve to the individual property owner. It is fair for the community to set standards for its own development, consistent with the wishes of its citizens (not developers).

        Just as it was in New Hampshire, where those who resisted planning and zoning claimed that “nobody has a right to tell me what I can do with my land”, that statement, if taken to it’s ultimate conclusion, would eliminate all planning and zoning and result is a dramatic decrease in neighborhood character and property values.

        While it is necessary to be diligent opposing any attempt to weaken the strength of the city’s planning and zoning code that would rapidly deteriorate the quality of life in the community, it would be a mistake to oppose minor change targeted (and applied) ONLY to the Edgewood neighborhood arts village proposal.

        I appreciate both your civility and the information you’ve provided in this exchange. Your passion is very apparent.

        We don’t want the arts village to be collateral damage in the battle to save Vero Beach from inappropriate city-wide zoning changes. Wage the war, but spare the innocent.


        Bob Webster

  7. Bob,

    I am impressed by your considerable background in community planning and preservation matters. Given your level of participation, I am surprised that you have not read the proposed Comprehensive Land Use 2035 Plan. You have some homework to do. The Comp Plan 2035 is on the COVB website under the Planning and Development category. You will save some time by focusing on the Land Use Elements chapter 2 & Housing Elements, chapter 4. Table 2-1 in the Overview section are of particular interest in terms of up-zoning and densification. Transportation chapter 3 is also a prevailing factor.
    Further to this understanding, you would do well to watch the April 20th presentation of the Plan by Tim McGarry to the Planning & Zoning Board to provide the context you queried earlier.
    Finally, you may find it helpful to watch my summary provided to City Council at the June 6th, 2017 COVB meeting.
    These three sources should give you a well-rounded view of the facts. Vero Beach will be fundamentally transformed in terms of population densification and rezoning for mixed use in all districts. The consequences of such changes will directly impact the art village. I guess Dana Little forgot to tell you.

    The plan has been rejected by Council until further research is conducted during Special Call workshops.


    • Phyllis,

      While I have experience, I wouldn’t go so far to characgterize it as “considerable background in community planning”.

      And, earlier, just after reading your last comment, I found the planning documents on line and have downloaded all four pdfs for study and understanding.

      Thanks for the tips where to focus attention… that should be helpful.

      Just to reiterate, after the final report for the Arts Village (based on the charrette Dana Little facilitated), the CCIRC and Leadership Team working with the neighborhood to move the Arts Village proposal forward have had no communication with the TCRPC or Mr. Little. Dana’s contribution as facilitator ended his role in support of the Arts Village.

      Whatever TCRPC has done with Vero Beach planners in support of the 2035 Comp Plan is an entirely separate issue.

      I appreciate your update. I was aware of the status of the plan. It never hurts to be circumspect with any big change to the community’s land use plan.


      Bob Webster

      • Excuse the typos! The type size in the reply field is very small (probably my monitor settings) which makes catching typos all the more difficult.

        Unfortunately, no opportunity to “edit” comments once posted.


      • Bob,

        As you will see, and as Dana Little promised in his art council video, his plan will reappear in increments. This is how the TCRPC achieves its end game. He works for them, not you.

        Your perspective may well change after you have completed your research of the Comp Plan. Thank you for taking the time to do so.


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