Let Cities Work to Determine Their Own Destiny.
FROM OUR EARLY EDUCATION WE ARE CONDITIONED TO BELIEVE THAT OUR LOCALLY ELECTED OFFICIALS REPRESENT US IN MATTERS THAT REFLECT OUR LOCAL LIVING PREFERENCES. CURRENTLY, LOCAL LAND USE AND ZONING LAWS LARGELY CONTROL WHERE WE LIVE, THE VALUE OF OUR HOME AND WHAT IT WILL COST TO KEEP IT.
This axiom over a lifetime appears on the surface to represent Home Rule of Law. But what happens when politics and bureaucracy shift positions and upset the paradigm?
Can’t happen here?
It is happening here, right here in Vero Beach.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the newly re-written Vero Beach Comprehensive Land Use 2035 POLICY Plan. In a radical departure from local representation and our traditional preferences for low density neighborhoods and small-town quality of life, this 400+ page document replaces low density zoning restrictions with mandates for mixed use, high density development adding pressure to increase building heights and commits us to its mandates for the next 18 years.
Mixed use development is defined by the American Planning Association as the designation for medium to large scale urban development and intensities, combining residential, commercial retail, restaurants, entertainment institutional, cultural and industrial development on the ground floor with compact, compressed and clustered high density population housing built above existing structures.
Broward County. Is this what we want?
In the new Comprehensive Land Use 2035 POLICY Plan, a set of 568 POLICIES which are laws call for mixed use, high density and intensity development for the next 18 years in all nine key areas of our city. Deviation from any one of the 568 laws is a quasi-judicial, prosecutable offense.
Imagine high density housing added to floors above all existing structures as mandated for Old Downtown, Royal Palm Point, Miracle Mile, U.S. 1, Beachland Boulevard, Ocean Drive, Cardinal Drive, our City marina and airport. Imagine easing building height limitations under our City Charter, a document that unelected bureaucrats control.
Rendering of a Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council master plan in West Palm Beach, Florida. Will this be Vero Beach?
If this is sounding a bit Draconian, perhaps it is because “we the people” have been excluded from this process.
Authorship of the document is owned by unelected bureaucrats, advisory boards and regional planners from outside our area. Implementation and support of the plan is furthered by the same, including our city manager and developers.
Follow the money.
In words of the Treasure Coast Regional Council’s urban planner, Dana Little’s own words, “It is all about changing local land uses to mandate mixed use zoning policies with increases in population density and intensity for the benefit of developers.” End quote.
As our head of P & D stated, “I’ve got people lined up at my door, chomping at the bit to do just that.” End quote.
Dana Little was hired to redevelop old downtown Vero.
Not one person from the public participated in the re-writing of the Comprehensive Land Use 2035 POLICY Plan document. Public participation has been non-existent except for one meeting on August 10th, 2017.
A knee-jerk reaction by City Council voting to rush, rush. Don’t think. Just act. Just pass it. They decided to dole out one more meeting on September 20 at 9:30 a.m. to give the public a whopping 3 minutes at the podium to comment on the Comp Plan.
I STRONGLY URGE MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC TO ATTEND THE MEETING. This is the one opportunity you will have to let the Council know that the plan needs further vetting by the public through joint workshops with our publicly elected officials, to give the public a whopping 3 minutes each at the podium to fill a square, a minutely small one.
I think they should reconsider and delay the approval in lieu of further research and evaluation.
The fact is that we are under no time constraints to hurry this extremely important matter ahead. Why the rush to whitewash it and pass it at warp speed? Why isn’t Council taking the time to properly vet this document along with the public and give it the proper consideration it deserves?
Is it important for some to clean this off their plates before November elections, or is it an easier path of least resistance to put less energy and work into a boilerplate document and pass it before we know what is in it?
If you think decisions made by former city councils inflicted pain and financial woe upon the public under poorly considered utility contracts, you’ve seen nothing yet.
Just wait until the POLICIES of the Comprehensive Land Use 2035 POLICY Plan are implemented.
The link for the public to access the Comprehensive Land Use 2035 POLICY Plan is:
http://www.cityofverobeach.org Select: Departments, then Planning & Development. In the left-hand column you will find the Comp Plan 2035. Since this is a 400+ page document, I suggest that the reader focus on Chapter 2 as it contains the new rezoning changes for all land use. This is the most critically important chapter.
This is a rendering for an All Aboard Florida /Brightline stop in Ft. Lauderdale. Again, is this what we want in Vero Beach? By the way, the towers are 80′ tall.
When we turn around in the future and ask, “How did this happen?” We will, with the perfect clarity of hindsight be able to cite the exact date, time, place and recall the names of the bureaucrats, politicians and developers who were responsible for destroying what we once held as “the Jewel in the Crown of the Treasure Coast.”
The author of this article, Phyllis Frey, an advocate for local home rule, was a FAA Safety Check Airman and line Captain for Comair, the largest Regional Airline in the U.S. in the 1980’s, the Delta connection.
Since originally publishing this article, we received one public comment:
“This entry is VERY important. The plan looks like the cookie cutter plans that are being influenced by major developers all along the East Coast. They are homogenous in nature and architecture and erase any local character or identification.
One thing they do is raise revenue from property tax. Officials of counties and cities often use their tax revenue as “bragging” rights at meetings.
I have seen planners move from metropolitan are to metropolitan area based on their formula and zoning regulations for density and revenue.
This is a document that begs for analysis and open discussion. The rush to passage when land holders are in transition and occupied with the change in seasons is a tactic for rapid passage with minimal examination. Stop, Look and Listen before you allow the County or City to adopt such an over arching plan.”