August 30 Primary: Which side are Martin County Commission candidates on?



Maggy Hurchalla [a 20-year Martin County Commissioner, an active member of numerous Governor Commissions on the Everglades, water and planning, a lifelong advocate for wetlands preservation, a winner of national, state and local environmental and conservation awards regarding wetlands, land planning, water studies] answers the question: Which side are they on?


At election time all the candidates tell you they are on your side. There’s nothing like looking at campaign finance reports to find out which side they ARE on.


Litigation has been a big issue with the pro-growth candidates. They have argued that the County is wasting taxpayer’s money by fighting back against lawsuits. They’ve claimed that if our comprehensive plan wasn’t so strict, we wouldn’t get sued.


Since the comp plan was first adopted in 1982 it has had policies that protected the people who live here and protected our environment and our taxpayers. That’s what makes us different.


Neighborhoods get hurt when rules aren’t enforced. Taxpayers end up footing the bill when developers don’t pay their fair share.


We’re living through a horrible example of what happens when we don’t take care of our environment.


Here’s a list of the developers and their attorneys who are suing Martin County to weaken the rules. Below it is a list of candidates who have taken campaign contributions from those who are suing us.


1. Hobe Groves – This is the big city that wanted to locate in cow pastures west of the Turnpike near Hobe Sound. It almost got approved by a pro-growth commission back in 2012. The new commission majority which was elected in 2012 passed amendments to the first two chapters of the comp plan to restore and strengthen the policies that were removed back in 2009.


Hobe Groves, Becker Groves, Lake Point, and King Ranch (Consolidated Citrus) filed an administrative challenge to the amendments. They told the court we did not have the right to have “quality of life for existing residents” as a goal in our comp plan. Attorneys for Hobe Groves (the Gunster law firm) took it all the way to the Florida cabinet. The County won on all major issues but the cabinet ruled that we cannot adopt a super majority vote to protect our height limit and other “pillars of the comp plan” until that part of the amendment is refilled and goes through the adoption process again. Jack Carmody, Steve Page, and Bob Raynes Jr. are attorneys for Gunster which has its own PAC.


2. Pitchford’s Landing – Bill Reily and Reily Enterprises sued the Jensen Beach Group for speaking out against their project and sued Martin County for not approving it. Ethan Loeb, attorney for Lake Point, now represents them. The Jensen Beach Group and the County both won.


3. Lake Point sued Martin County, the So. Fla. Water Management District and Maggy Hurchalla claiming their rockpit out by Lake Okeechobee was exempt from County rules and that they should be allowed to sell Martin County water to West Palm Beach. Lake Point people and companies have donated well over one hundred thousand dollars in Martin County Commission races in the last eight years to try to elect a pro-growth commission. Lake Point uses LLCs located at 4500 Biscayne Blvd., out-of-county PACs, consultants and family members to disguise their contributions. They threw a hundred thousand dollars against Sarah Heard and Ed Fielding in 2014 and then filed a late report so it wouldn’t be in the newspapers prior to the election. Look for 4500 Biscayne Blvd., Higgins Engineering, Rusbridge, Laird and strange out-of-town PACs. Lake Point has kept up a very expensive court fight since Feb 2013. Recently the judge granted summary judgment in favor of SFWMD declaring that Lake Point has no right to sell water. The trial is scheduled for September 12.


4. Firefighters are not in court but are at impasse over their contract. Union members have been assessed extra dues to influence the election. A few individual firefighters are contributing but most of it is being funneled through the following out-of-town PACS: Indian River Fire PAC, Firefighter Factpac, Palm Beach County Fire PAC, Citizens for Public Safety, Florida Leadership Committee, Police Benevolent Assoc. The firefighters are sponsoring a negative postcard campaign against John Haddox and Anne Scott accusing them of hiding emails sent to them by Maggy Hurchalla. Contract resolution won’t happen until they see if they can change the Commission majority.


5. Martin Land Company filed an administrative challenge against the County over amendments which strengthened the comp plan chapter on sewer services. They were originally joined by King Ranch and several farm groups including Carl Frost of Kai Kai Farms. Martin Land took it all the way to a final hearing insisting they should be allowed to build 40 acres of commercial using a package sewer plant at Bridge Rd. and I-95. They were represented by Gunster. The County won on all counts.


6. Viesel was a biodeisel plant in the SPS Industrial Park that had a bad fire with toxic spills. The fire cost the County $1.3 million in cleanup cost. The owners originally said they had insurance and the County planned to pursue reimbursement. Instead the County relieved the owner of responsibility and collected $1 million from the County insurance policy. Nyberg and the two Lamb brothers were part of the company ownership and management.


7. Martingale Commons sued the County to allow them to build commercial at the corner of I-95 and 714. The County lost in the lower court based on a member of the planning staff telling the developer he could get approval. The County settled the case. The attorney for Martingale was Terry McCarthy. Martingale has a large collection of out-of-town LLCs that have made local campaign contributions. Owners are Nathan and Joseph Brittian. Related companies include Palm Hills Inc. in North Carolina and HM Investors LLC.


Incumbents Doug Smith and John Haddox have collectively received over $15,000 from these sources as of the July filings.


Ed Ciampi received $4000 from fire PACs and $500 from Reily.


Anne Scott, Harold Jenkins, Donna Melzer, and Jacqui Thurlow have received NO contributions from these sources.




Citizens for Public Safety

Florida Leadership Committee

Firefighter fact PAC

Gunster PAC

Indian River Fire PAC

Palm Beach County Fire PAC

Police Benevolent Assoc.

Consolidated Citrus (King Ranch)

Joseph Brittian

Nathan Brittian

Jack Carmody (Gunster)

Consolidated Citrus (King Ranch)

Frost ( Kai Kai)

Higgins Engineering (Lake Point)

HM Investments (Martingale)

McCarthy (Martingale)

Nyberg (Viesel)

Page (Gunster)

Palm Hills Inc (Martingale)

Reilly (Pitchfords Landing)

Raynes (Gunster)



Indian River Fire PAC

Firefighter Factpac

Palm Beach County Fire PAC

Citizens for Public Safety


Police Benevolent Assoc.

J Brittian (Martingale)

Frost (Kai Kai)

S Lamb (Viesel)

Nyberg (Veisel)

HM Properties (Martingale)

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