SEBASTIAN - Sebastian officials have hit the pause button on a proposed 1,118 acre annexation until further discussions can be had with county staff.
The land use map amendment for the property was requested by Graves Brothers Company for a development that could include more than 3,000 homes.
The Planning and Zoning Commission had been scheduled to discuss the issue on July 18 to review and make recommendations to the council.
Council Member Ed Dodd requested the delay, based on discussions he participated in with the Metropolitan Planning Organization. Mr. Dodd represents the city of Sebastian on the MPO, which also includes members of the county, Vero Beach, Fellsmere, and the school board.
The delay was requested to resolve both substantive and communications issues.
Environmental issues involving water availability and the extension and widening of several roads have been raised by both non-profit organizations and the county.
Council member Dodd acknowledged that the issues the MPO was grappling with were legitimate MPO issues.
“The issues that they’re talking about, 82nd Ave. and 510, are MPO issues,” Council Member Dodd said. “So the MPO can carry on that conversation.”
The Sebastian City Council was most concerned with allegations raised at the MPO meeting that the city was not communicating with the county about the project.
“The miscommunication issues are the problem,” Council Member Dodd said. “They (MPO) may not be hearing everything that they need to hear.”
Mayor Jim Hill questioned City Manager Paul Carlisle about discussions he had had with the county and the MPO.
“I have some questions of staff relevant to the communications that the city of Sebastian has had with the county over the last several months through this annexation process,” Mayor Hill said to Mr. Carlisle. “It appears as though the county is taking the stance that the city is not communicating with the county, and I want to know if that’s in fact the case.”
“No sir,” Mr. Carlisle replied. “We had a meeting in March with (county Planning Director) Stan Bolling and with Phil (Matson, MPO Director). We discussed numerous items - we discussed the traffic, we discussed the water, sewer. We have a meeting Aug. 2 with the County Administrator to discuss some of these same items. But we met in March.”
Mr. Carlisle said there had been an email exchange with Stan Bolling after the meeting to discuss points raised in the meeting.
“The applicant was there, they got to see the maps, the inter-connectivity roadways,” Mr. Carlisle said. “At that meeting they didn’t seem to have a big issue with it. They did say that there’s no guarantee for water, which we understood, we didn’t disagree with that.”
“When they say there have been no discussions, I sent an email to the county administrator and said I take exception to that. I copied him on an email I had gotten from Stan regarding that. Did we solve all the questions and issues? No, but the communication was there.”
The MPO scheduled further discussion on the issue for sometime in the first two weeks of August.
Regarding the proposal to take the issue off the Planning and Zoning Commission agenda for July 18, Mayor Hall asked if the project would be harmed by awaiting resolution of the MPO issues. Mr. Dodd replied that it would not. He said that if the council is still scheduled to finalize the issue on Aug. 28, the Planning and Zoning Commission could have another meeting in that time frame.
With that understanding that the delay would not jeopardize the project, the council voted 4-0 (with one absence) to postpone the land use discussion for the Graves annexation from July 18 to a future meeting.