Tuesday’s BOCC agenda: Contentious ‘Battle of Pitchford’s Landing’ concludes another chapter


Virginia Sherlock

Local attorney and civic activist Virginia Sherlock details Tuesday’s upcoming Board of County Commissioners meeting agenda, which has been shortened by elimination of the Pitchford’s Landing application for final site plan approval: The application is being withdrawn, concluding another chapter in the long and contentious Battle of Pitchford’s Landing.

Bill and Nancy Reily purchased the old Pitchford’s RV Park in 2005 and partnered with Reily Enterprises, LLC, to propose Pitchford’s Landing with a land use change and Planned Unit Development zoning agreement.

The Reilys declared war on Jensen Beach neighbors who opposed the project and filed a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) to try to silence citizen complaints. Nearly four years later, the lawsuit was settled – along with a SLAPP-back countersuit filed by SLAPPed residents.

The property subsequently went into foreclosure and Nancy Reily filed for bankruptcy.

Recent efforts to revive the scaled-down project faced continued opposition by neighboring property owners, who cited inconsistencies with the approved master plan, Land Development Regulations and the Comprehensive Plan.

The Pitchford’s Landing item was the only morning pre-set, which means items farther down on the agenda now will be moved up, including a proposed moratorium on truck stops and a meeting of the Community Redevelopment Agency.

The Clerk of Court is scheduled to give a presentation on an audit of the Business Development Board’s books and records at 2:45 p.m.

Here are some agenda items to watch:

Among proclamations and presentations is Agenda Item 2B, honoring Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Abbate for “distinguished service” in coming to the aid of a baby who was choking at Sailfish Splash Waterpark last month. This item is pre-set for 1:35 p.m.

Agenda Item 4C2 on the Consent Agenda is a resolution urging the Army Corps not to remove sand from off-shore areas of Martin and St. Lucie Counties to replenish Miami-Dade beaches.

 An ordinance to impose an 18-month moratorium on applications for truck stops anywhere in the County is Agenda Item 6B. A proposal to build a truck stop on Kanner Highway near I-95 generated massive opposition earlier this year, forcing the developer to withdraw the proposal in the face of a united front established by homeowner associations and residents of the Florida Club and other established residential communities in the area. The moratorium will give staff time to study issues related to truck stops, which are not specifically authorized by County Land Development Regulations. Appropriate locations, anti-idling requirements, and other matters will be analyzed and brought back to the BOCC during the moratorium period.

 Item 7B is a presentation by the County Court Clerk on the results of an audit of the Business Development Board’s books and records. No information or supplemental memorandum has been made available with the agenda item. This item is pre-set for 2:45 p.m.

 The BOCC will adjourn and reconvene as the Community Redevelopment Agency to discuss times and locations for future meetings of the CRA. Agenda Item 8B1 will adress scheduling of the required four meetings a year for the CRA, and Agenda Item 8C1 is a request for acceptance of a donation of property in the Port Salerno CRA. The property is a vacant residential parcel that is being donated by Dr. Frederic R. Gottlieb.

 Finally, Items 8E1 and 8E2 are contracts for grant awards to organizations that conduct events designed to bring visitors to the County (Sailfish Regatta, Pineapple Festival, Stuart Air Show and Stuart Boat Show) and the 2014 Treasure Coast Sports Commission contract, which also is part of the effort to increase tourism activities in Martin County. Earlier this month, the Commission voted unanimously to allow the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Arts Council contracts to expire on September 30, assigning more tourism development activities to Parks and Recreation Department staff with BOCC oversight.

The complete Agenda and individual Agenda Items can be reviewed on the Martin County website at http://ap3server.martin.fl.us:7778/portal/page?_pageid=356,4196394&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&AID=2013-09-24

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