Rural Lifestyle Amendment:  Here we go again....

 

June 21:   In a surprising move, at the last minute the develpoer requested to staff that the amendment NOT be voted on during the June 21 BOCC meeting. Per his letter to staff, they are wanting to "evaluate alternative language" for the text amendment after getting feedback from stakeholders in the community.  Stay tuned.   Perhaps this is good news.  Undoubtedly, however it is worded, they will have the item before the BOCC again one day soon.

 

 

Bottom line The Rural Lifestyle zoning amendment to our Comp Plan is once again coming before the Board of County Commissioners for a vote.  Just like on April 19th, the BOCC will be voting on whether to add Rural Lifestyle Zoning (RLZ) to the Comp Plan, whether to add the Discovery/Atlantic Fields development to the Future Land Use Map (FLUM), and whether to allow the Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the Discovery/Atlantic Fields project.  If they approve RLZ, then the other parts will likely be approved.

Having this come before the Commission again in June -- with only minor changes and without public workshops -- shows how determined some are in having this approved.  Like we did on April 19th, public outcry against the amendment is once again needed in order to stop this from passing. 

Yes, it's true that some of the considerations made at the April 19th meeting have been addressed, but many have not.  Most notably, the text of the amendment still appears to allow Rural Lifestyle Zoning to take place throughout the rural part of Martin County, though the exact acreage is unknown.   Is it 132,336 acres?   158,000 acres?   One thing we know for certain is that it certainly is not limited to the 1531 acres needed by Atlantic Fields, and it does not appear to be limited to the 14,000 acres requested by the Guardians of Martin County.   Instead, just as it was proposed for the April meeting, Rural Lifestsyle Zoning (RLZ) will allow for any properties that are 1000+ contiguous acres within unincorporated Martin County and which are adjacent to the Primary Urban Service District, the Secondary Urban Service District, or a Freestanding Industrial Service District to be considered for RLZ status.  For purposes of this policy, "adjacent property" is the same as "abutting" or "adjoining" property, including property with a shared property line regardless of easements on the abutting properties.  Properties separated by an existing road right of way will be considered adjacent too.  This wording is troublesome to many, for they believe it could eventually lead to a chain of developments over time, causing overdevelopment on our agricultural and open lands.  Just as was said in April, many environmental groups and concerned residents fear that if RLZ is unleashed throughout western Martin County this will result in unchecked sprawl and Martin County will lose forever the Martin County Difference.

Any way you look at it, RLZ will increase housing density.  Agricultural land allows for only 1 unit per 20 acres.  RLZ would allow 4 units per 20 acres.  Increased density means more people, more cars, more infrastructure needs, more services in those developed areas.

What can you do about it?

  • Join the rally before the BOCC meeting this Tuesday, June 21.  We will begin gathering at 8:00 a.m.  Set your alarm!  Bring your sign.   Bring family and friends.  The more the merrier.  The rally will take place at the County Administration Building at 2401 SE Monterey.  It's next door to the Blake Library.  The rally will be in the parking lot at the back entrance to the building.

  • Attend the meeting, which starts at 9:00.   Speak up and voice your concerns to the Commission.  Tell them why the Rural Lifestyle amendment is bad for Martin County.  You get three minutes.  (Time yourself speaking at home and tweak your message so you can say it all under 3 minutes.)   Prior to the meeting, be sure to fill out a Comment Card to get your name down for speaking at the meeting.  

  • Before end of day on Monday, write to the Commissioners.   Let's fill their inboxes with messages to vote NO.    You can send one email that goes to all 5 commissioners by addressing the email to comish@martin.fl.us.  See the info below about looking up the agenda and accessing all the documentation surroundinig Tuesday's vote.

  • You can also send an email to staff:
    Taryn Kryzda   tkryzda@martin.fl.us
    Sarah Woods   swoods@martin.fl.us
    Clyde Dulin      cdulin@martin.fl.us
    Paul Schilling   pschilli@martin.fl.us

  • Before end of day on Monday, call the Commissioners at 772-288-5420 and tell them what you think.

  • "The other side" largely consists of developers, real estate professionals, large landowners, and some business owners who see RLZ as a way to make lots of money.   Let's make sure the Commission hears from the majority of Martin County residents who put our Martin County Difference ahead of money-making opportunities.  Don't be fooled by their arguments that THEY are the environmentalists because some land is set aside within each RLZ property for conservation.  Let the Commission know that many who are against the Rural Lifestyle amendment are for Smart Growth, not No Growth.  There are still too many unknowns about the Rural Lifestyle amendment, even with the additional tweaks since the April meeting.

Documentation:  The most important info to see is the official text amendment for Rural Lifestyle.  Click here.   At the top, you will see 10 different attached documents.  The first one titled StaffReport.pdf is the main document that discusses the changes to the amendment.   Take a look so you're knowledgeable of the details and draw your own conclusions.  You can also click here for the FLUM documentation.  You can also click here for the PUD information.   Yes, to read it all is pretty overwhelming but at least look at the StaffReport.pdf.

PLEASE NOTE:  The information which follows was mostly put together in early April.  Sadly, most of the info is still relevant because of the efforts of some to make Rural Lifestyle a reality.   A few updates have been made to the content below, but little else has been altered.  Most of the same arguments against RLZ still apply.

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Say NO
to Rural Lifestyle Amendment

Save Our Martin County Comp Plan!

Tell Martin County Commissioners

"NO"

to CPA 21-08, the Rural Lifestyle Amendment

to CPA 21-09, the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) for 1,493.91 acres

to Discovery Planned Unit Development (PUD) on a 1,531 acre parcel

NO  to increased taxes

NO  to increased traffic

NO  to increased land prices

NO  to urban sprawl

NO  to lack of transparency during the amendment process

NO  to lack of public workshops

Miniature Cars

DON'T BE FOOLED!

As currently written, Comp Plan Amendment 21-08 will fundamentally change Martin County by allowing development all the way to Lake O. Providing for such growth will mean loss of agricultural land, increased infrastructure, increased traffic, increased land prices, and increased taxes.

Yes, it's good for those who hold a lot of land.  They'll make a killing off increased land prices. And good for the developers who will ravage the land to put up their housing developments.  Also good for the rich homeowners leaving their mansions to play golf and go to polo matches.

It's really bad for future conservation efforts because this will cause land prices to skyrocket and will hurt efforts to buy land needed for restoration of our waterways.  Not exactly what Martin County really needs now, is it?

One other very troubling aspect to this amendment is the process the County has taken on this -- letting the developer suggest the new land use designation, initially suggesting it would only apply to this 1,531 acre development but then changing it to include the entire county area, and not having public workshops on this significant change to our Comp Plan.

 

For all the reasons above, this is a bad amendment and should be defeated.   Contact the Board of County Commissioners and tell them to vote NO on adopting this new amendment.  Appear before the Board on June 21st at 9:00 a.m. and tell them in person to vote NO and let your voice be heard! Attend the rally beforehand at 8:00 a.m. to be with those who share your views.

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DO YOUR RESEARCH 

Check out the information below to educate yourself on how this amendment could adversely affect you and your family.

 132,336

 acres of farmland may be developed

Amendment 21-08 and other  documentation

That's right.  Over 132,000 acres of farmland in western Martin County could be opened up to development if this amendment passes....

CLICK HERE to view the map.

Note the green areas.  Green represents agricultural land and totals 132,336 acres.  This land is currently zoned at 1 unit per 20 acres.  If designated Rural Lifestyle, this land would then  be allowed 1 unit per 5 acres--loss of farmland and open space, increase in housing density.

Updated for June 21 meeting:  Read the Rural Lifestyle amendment yourself. 

 CPA 21-08

What did Maggy say?

Before she passed, beloved environmentalist and Martin County native Maggy Hurchulla said that 21-08 "wrecks the Comp Plan and would make Martin County WORSE than Palm Beach and Dade County in terms of not containing urban sprawl."  She added that this would be the most dramatic change to the Comp Plan since it was adopted in 1982.  The Urban Services Boundary will be meaningless -- sewer and water could be extended anywhere.

Traffic Jam

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Bottom line:   Call and/or write county commissioners.  Attend the rally at 8:00 on April 19th and stay for the BOCC meeting at 9:00.  Speak before the commission and argue your case.  Let your voice be heard!  Bring friends and family.

 

BOCC Meeting:  April 19th at 9:00 a.m. in County Chambers at 2401 SE Monterey Rd

(Preceded by a rally at 8:00 a.m. in the parking lot.)

Agenda:  Click here to view Agenda

At the April 19th meeting, the BOCC likely will make the motion to approve CPA 21-08 (Comprehensive Plan Amendment 21-08).  This is a proposal to add a new land use designation to Martin's Comp Plan which would be called "Rural Lifestyle."  This newly created designation (which was brought forth by a developer) says that if land meets the requirement of 1000 contiguous acres outside the Urban Services Boundary, the agricultural land  may be categorized as Rural Lifestyle.  This would greatly increase housing density in western Martin County because it would take us from 1 unit per 20 acres (the current Agricultural standard) to 1 unit per 5 acres.  Rural Lifestyle designation, unlike Agricultural and Agricultural Ranchette designations, allows for connection to water and sewer and permits recreational amenities such as golf courses, which are supported by project residents/investors. 

Among the problems many have noted regarding the new Rural Lifestyle land use as currently written:

  • proposed by a developer and passed by the BOCC with limited input from the public

  • indicates that Rural Lifestyle designation is available to any contiguous 1000 acre tract of land within Martin County that is outside the Urban Services District -- thus, it could lead to urban sprawl since there are currently no limits to its use
    Note: A recent proposed change to the amendment addresses the issue of sprawl but all the implications of the amendment are not clear.
    For the June 21 meeting:  
     Just as it was proposed for the April meeting, Rural Lifestsyle Zoning (RLZ) will allow for any properties that are 1000+ contiguous acres within unincorporated Martin County and which are adjacent to the Primary Urban Service District, the Secondary Urban Service District, or a Freestanding Industrial Service District to be considered for RLZ status.  For purposes of this policy, "adjacent property" is the same as "abutting," "adjoining" or "immediately adjacent" property, including property with a shared property line regardless of easements on the abutting properties.  Properties separated by an existing road right of way will be considered adjacent too.  This wording is troublesome to many, for they believe it could eventually lead to a chain of developments over time, causing overdevelop on our agricultural and open lands.  Just as was said in April, many environmental groups fear that if RLZ is unleashed throughout western Martin County this will result in unchecked sprawl and Martin County will lose forever the Martin County Difference.

  • increased development runs counter to Martin County's conservation and clean water efforts; increased land prices will hurt efforts

  • "open space" objective within the amendment is vaguely written and such spaces as golf courses (which themselves are sources of pollution) are allowed to be included in that

  • increased transportation costs, increased traffic, increased expenses, and increased taxes seem likely to support these far- reaching developments in western Martin County
     

The BOCC will also vote on whether to accept the change to the future land use map of Martin County to depict Rural Lifestyle areas, and they will vote on whether to approve Discovery PUD, which is a planned development on more than 1500 acres off Bridge Rd near I-95.  This development has a golf course and homes starting at $3.5 million and it requires Rural Lifestyle to pass. 

 

  • Make your voices heard!  Call or write BOCC members and support staff to tell them you are against this amendment.

  • It's easy:  write all of the commissioners in one email using this address:  comish@martin.fl.us

  • In addition, go to the rally at 8:00 a.m. on the 19th followed by the BOCC meeting at 9:00 a.m.  Be prepared to speak to the commission.  You get 3 minutes.   Tell them why this amendment is bad and should not be approved.  Ask your friends and family to join you.

  • A large public outcry will be needed to stop this amendment from becoming reality.  

 

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