KEN AND DEBORAH DAIGE
Editor’s Note: Ken Daige is a former City Council member; he and Deborah are active community volunteers.
We have been presented with numerous concepts and various ideas about the Three Corners that are moving forward at the same time that folks are overwhelmed with family, work, and community concerns as they cope with COVID-19. More people are questioning the rapid Three Corners process worried that details are being overlooked. This is evident by letters to the editor and emails to City Council. The concept plan does not follow our current land use standards, which means there will be future amendments to our Comprehensive Plan. If approved, that opens the door for other developers to ask for the same consideration on future projects in our city.
Changes being called for to allow the Three Corners project to proceed must be approved by City of Vero Beach voter referendum. While most voters in Indian River County call Vero Beach home, only registered City of Vero Beach voters will have a say in this referendum. As it currently reads, the proposed referendum is very broad in scope, yet state law limits the ballot description to no more than 75 words. City Council chooses what words are used – and not used.
Simple it is not.
For instance, the current wording expects City voters to approve the vague notion of allowing all or just a portion of the former power plant site to be leased for commercial and not-for-profit development. If approved, it means voters will hand over to City Council the authority to commercially develop all the Three Corners properties as they interpret whichever concept they approve, not voters. Why? Because the proposed referendum does not state how much land will be developed for public versus commercial use. If the property is commercially developed there is no right of expectation by the citizens to think that all uses shall be open to the public even though the referendum states such. Any not-for-profit who leases a portion of the former power plant land from the city has the right of expectation that there will be no trespass and also may require a membership fee.
“Shall the city charter be amended.” Currently, two of the Three Corners properties are protected for public use by our City Charter, as was approved overwhelmingly in a previous voter referendum. We should not be rushed into this decision without the specific details such as site plan costs or projections, environmental and wildlife impacts, storm water management review, traffic and parking impacts, economic impacts to our local businesses and neighborhoods, and city voter understanding of the consequences of their vote.
There is no turning back with buyer’s remorse once a major city charter change and a plan is adopted by the city council and approved by city voters.