Letter to the editor: Will ‘commercial creep’ be the rule?

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

705 azalea Lane (lower left) sits next to two residences and three vacant lots.

Editor’s note: This was written by several residents and signed as “Concerned Citizens of Azalea.” 

Have you heard what is happening on the 700 block of Azalea Lane?
The voices of the residents are being completely ignored. How can one applicant be allowed to change the land use on a quiet, fully residential street, when there is so much opposition? And how can this issue have escalated to the point where residents are forced to spend thousands of dollars and dozens of hours trying to protect their homes and their rights?

In July, after a thorough hearing with information presented from all sides, the Vero Beach Planning and Zoning Committee unanimously denied an application requesting a future land use change (FLUM) of a single family residence at 705 Azalea Lane into a private parking lot, knowing what commercial creep has done to other residential neighborhoods.

However, in September, when the matter was brought before City Council for final vote, the Planning and Zoning recommendation was ignored. The City Council voted 3 to 2 to approve the proposed land use amendment with the condition that text amendments would be made to prevent any further commercial creep.  Instead, the City Planner then went on to unilaterally propose changes to the City’s Comprehensive Plan that would limit the potential of commercial creep to not just the one lot, but stated the creep would go no further than an entire block north and south of Beachland Blvd (Azalea and Acacia Lanes), putting dozens more taxpaying residents’ homes at risk for land use changes. Thankfully the planning and zoning committee tabled the text amendment changes because there must be due process. At least two public hearings are required by law for a larger scale development amendment like this to the Comprehensive Plan. So that leaves the FLUM amendment at 705 Azalea up in the air until the proper conditions promised by the city are met.

The role of city council is supposedly to listen to residents, and uphold the integrity of our residential communities. In this instance, the city has repeatedly ignored the voices of the people who live on Azalea Lane, a quiet residential street, and instead has proposed more growth and commercial creep.

A petition has been filed against the city to prevent the FLUM amendment at 705 Azalea from moving forward – as the city council, city planners and city attorney need to stop and take another look at what they are proposing. All that is being asked for is a thorough, unbiased evaluation, and that proper procedures are followed. The city attorney has instructed city council members not to discuss the matter with anyone, whether they are a petitioner or not. Wouldn’t a better solution, in fact, be to listen to their constituents, save taxpayer money, and stop treating tax paying citizens like criminals just because we have asked the city to properly do their job?

The city council held a “Shade Meeting” On January 21st, to discuss this case. The result of this meeting was that the City Council will be discussing the matter publicly on February 4, 2020, at 8:30 am.  We are asking that you and everyone you know who objects to changing the land use at 705 Azalea Lane attend the City Council meeting on February 4, 2020, at 8:30 am.  If you are unable to attend, please express your concern by sending an email to the City Clerk, Tammy Bursick (tbursick@covb.org) and please request distribution to City Council members.

2 comments

  1. You may recall Joni Mitchell’s song Big Yellow Taxi:
    “They paved paradise… put up a parking lot”.
    Her haunting refrain continues:
    “Don’t it always seem to go… that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

    The Concerned Citizens of Azalea AND the Planning & Zoning Committee are right to be infuriated. Zoning regulations should NOT be changed to allow a parking lot on a residentially zoned street. To do this would be unconscionable.

    Vero Beach as it exists today is still a HOME town. Let’s keep it that way.

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