News / Events

Brevard Commission OKs 13K new homes

BY RICK NEALE

December 16, 2009

With minimal discussion, the Brevard County Commission has unanimously adopted a package of planning regulations allowing the creation of West Viera.

Developers can create new communities containing more than 13,300 homes across 36 square miles of Space Coast woodland and cattle pasture, the Brevard County Commission ruled Tuesday.

In what may be remembered as landmark decisions, commissioners unanimously granted speedy approval for West Viera and Miami Corp. comprehensive planning amendments.

If ultimately approved in Tallahassee, these land-use changes will permit development of two enormous land tracts. One (11,567 acres) is the remainder of the Duda family cattle ranch. The other (11,531 acres) is the Farmton Tree Farm, northwest of Scottsmoor.

Assuming 2.35 people per household, Tuesday's votes could add the equivalent population of Cocoa to Brevard County -- twice.

The developments may also generate hundreds of millions of dollars in future tax and fee revenue.

The Miami Corp. timeline stretches construction of 2,306 homes and mixed-use commercial- office development over 50 years. The West Viera timeline calls for about 11,000 homes through 2025.

"It is the best possible planning we can do, with all the experts we've been able to bring in and all of the experts you've been able to bring in," Glenn Storch, a Miami Corp. lawyer, told commissioners.

In stark contrast to development debates at the Government Center and city halls -- particularly during the real estate boom -- only one resident complained at the public podium Tuesday.

That was Cocoa resident Douglas Sphar, who criticized the Miami Corp. proposal on behalf of the Sierra Club Turtle Coast Group. Likening the plan to urban sprawl, he said the project is too large and will threaten natural resources.

The Miami Corp. plan designates more than 8,000 acres as conservation land. Likewise, the West Viera plan conserves nearly 5,300 acres adjacent to the River Lakes Conservation Area.

"I think, when there's no (county staff) comments and no public speakers in the room, that's a sign that we've done a good job planning over the last four years," Viera Co. President Steve Johnson said after the vote.

Most of the Miami Corp.'s proposed development lies beyond the Volusia County border.

Contact Neale at 242-3638 or rneale@floridatoday.com.

 


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