Tuesday’s BOCC meeting may finally end the battle of Pitchford’s Landing


From Ginny Sherlock, renowned local attorney, civic activist, and former Associated Press editor: Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting could bring a long-overdue end to a local development battle with what may be the final hearing for the Pitchford’s Landing project that landed more than a dozen residents of Jensen Beach in court defending a SLAPP suit filed by the property owner in an unsuccessful effort to shut them up nearly a decade ago.


A presentation on the Martin County Golf Course Master Plan is scheduled to begin at 9:15 a.m.  (Agenda Item 7A)  The Commission appointed a citizens advisory committee to make recommendations on golf course renovations.  There is concern that some of the plans are too grandiose for taxpayers’ tastes or wallets, and several golf industry-connected residents have called for more study to ensure that the County and local golfers get the best facility for the least expense.  The Commission is being asked to approve a $79,000 expenditure from the golf course enterprise fund to demolish the clubhouse and locker room and set up a temporary facility in a modular structure plus a $600,000 transfer from the general fund for design and permitting expenses related to the new facility.


Pitchford’s will be heard at 10:30 a.m. (Item 8C1) and may take up a good part of the morning.  The staff report is lengthy and extremely detailed, with a recommendation that the application for a Second Amendment to the Pitchford’s Landing PUD Agreement, revised master site plan and final site plan should be denied.  There are scores of defects, deficiencies, inconsistencies, and downright inaccuracies in the Pitchford’s application.  It’s hard to believe that Bill and Nancy Reily and their team are actually serious in seeking approval for this ill-conceived project as presented.  Although the South Florida Water Management District has delineated wetlands on the site (consistent with an administrative law judge’s conclusion that wetlands are likely present to the extent of the mangrove canopy and beyond), environmental consultant Toby Overdorf has done an about-face, now saying there are no wetlands on the property and none depicted on the proposed site plans despite the fact that the Preserve Area Management Plan he previously submitted concluded that “in the professional opinion of Crossroads Environmental Consultants, Inc., there are jurisdictional wetlands within the limits of the subject property.”  The South Florida Water Management District says a proposed boardwalk in the Jensen Beach to Jupiter Inlet Aquatic Preserve — the “public benefit” offered by the developer in exchange for PUD zoning — can’t be built because of adverse impacts to seagrasses and other important marine resources.  Staff says the proposed plans aren’t consistent with the existing PUD Agreement or current Land Development Regulations and the Comprehensive Plan.  The deadline for approving the final site plan is August 7, 2015.  Hopefully, we will have heard the last of Pitchford’s Landing after Tuesday’s meeting.


The public will get an update on the County’s efforts to fight All Aboard Florida during Agenda Item 8A2.  The Florida Development Finance Corporation is scheduled to consider approving bonds to finance AAF at a meeting on August 5.  The Commission last week voted to hire a law firm to represent the County in connection with FDFC matters.  Staff will provide a report Tuesday on the latest developments in the County’s efforts.


Finally, the commission will consider a request to approve $120,000 in public funds to extend water and sewer lines on NE Railroad Street in Rio to serve eight homes (six of them owned by a single corporation).  This request follows approval last week of an initial assessment to extend a water line to eight homes in Palm City.  The Palm City residents will have to pay about $7,600 each for the water line extension because they are not located within a CRA.  The owners of the Rio properties will not be assessed because they are in the CRA and will have their utility extensions paid for by taxpayers.


Attend Tuesday’s meeting to speak up on any subject that interests you during Public Comment starting at 9:05 a.m. or during any agenda item presentation.  You can also let your commissioners know how you feel by e-mailing them at sheard@martin.fl.us, efieldin@martin.fl.us, ascott@martin.fl.us, jhaddox@martin.fl.us, and dsmith@martin.fl.us with a copy to the County Attorney and County Administrator at mdurham@martin.fl.us and tkryzda@martin.fl.us.

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