News / Events

County planners support sprawling North Brevard residential project


December 12, 2009

Miami Corp. envisions communities on land near Scottsmoor

VIERA — Setting aside a criticism-laden state report, a Brevard County advisory board believes that Miami Corp. should receive permission to build communities across thousands of wooded acres northwest of Scottsmoor.

By a 6-1 vote, the Brevard County Local Planning Agency has recommended land-use changes that would open 3,406 acres of forest, scrub and wetlands for mixed residential-commercial development.

The LPA decision runs counter to a 75-page Florida Department of Community Affairs report on the sprawling project, which encompasses the legacy landowner's 59,000-acre holdings in Brevard and Volusia counties.

Released late last month, the state's report details problems with 11 issues -- including impact on wetlands, water supply and wildlife corridors -- and advised Space Coast officials to reject Miami Corp.'s proposal.

"The amendment site is not environmentally suitable for the types, densities and intensities and configuration of land uses proposed," the report states.

But the report was flawed: In their calculations, DCA planners mistakenly doubled the number of residential units (2,306) Miami Corp. hopes to build in Brevard, said Stuart Buchanan, county planner. He said many key assumptions contained in the report were based on that error.

"The residential density will stay the same, no matter what -- 15 years, 20 years, 50 years," said Glenn Storch, company lawyer.

The Brevard County Commission will cast a decisive vote on the Miami Corp. comprehensive plan amendment on Tuesday .

Managed since the 1950s as the Farmton Tree Farm, the Chicago-based family trust's Brevard holdings total 11,531 acres. This land could be split into a checkerboard of 2,306 five-acre "ranchettes" under today's zoning regulations, Storch said.

The Farmton Plan would designate 80 percent of this tract as conservation land. The remaining acreage would contain higher-density development, including an "economic development gateway" near the Scottsmoor Interstate 95 exit, Storch said.

"One of you guys must have traveled to south France or Spain or something, because that's the way they do things," Peter Aydelotte, an LPA member, said of the plan.

However, Laura Ward, the board's harshest Miami Corp. critic, denounced the proposal. She condemned the plan as urban sprawl, located near neither Interstate 95 nor U.S. 1.

"It's nowhere near any roads, any sewers. It's out in the middle of nowhere. And DCA, they get paid -- let them figure it out," Ward told Storch as he stood at the public podium. "You say it's not urban sprawl. Looks to me like it is."

Ernie Brown, county natural resources director, said Miami Corp. will likely need additional comprehensive plan amendments to resolve wetland and floodplain concerns.

LPA member Jerry Jagrowski cast the no vote, saying he could not ignore 11 DCA objections. Ward is an alternate member who did not vote Tuesday.

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