When it gets right down to it, Three Corners is really Two Corners – the former Vero Electric and current Water Treatment properties. Both are protected in the City Charter for public use, which means anything other than public use would require a City of Vero Beach voter referendum.
Significant effort and expense has been put into developing plans with guidance from Andreas Duany’s DPZ Codesign consultants, including the now famous January 31 “Standing Ovation” conceptual plan.
Then COVID-19 changed everything.
As a result, Duany advised City Council last month that post-pandemic development will differ dramatically and the S.O. plan needed major alterations. Duany and his firm then created a post-pandemic version of the conceptual plan that has since spawned several more versions. Now we have an either-or-or-or-or plan. Clearly, City Council could not make any decisions (or a proposed November 3 voter referendum) until further study of the options and input from voters, which has been non-existent since the first post-pandemic version was presented last month.
The bottom line issue here is what plan is best for Vero Beach and will City of Vero Beach voters agree? Vero Beach voters decided by referendum to protect these two properties from commercial development by placing them in the City Charter. Each of the plans recommended by Duany’s firm feature parks and open space required under the current land use designation. However, they also include commercial development.
There are valid arguments for including commercial development in the plan if that is what the citizens and voters of Vero Beach truly want. Some have recently expressed a desire to keep all the land in public use as originally intended. But does that reflect a majority opinion of Vero Beach voters?
How many City residents and businesses approved the original conceptual plan that received a standing ovation endorsement? One source notes that 16,000 people contributed during the charrette and subsequent SpeakUpVero Beach website. How many of those lived within the City of Vero Beach?
When all is said and done and a final plan is approved by City Council, it must then go to City voters in a referendum, because they – not present or former City Council members, County officials or the media – have the most to lose, which is public control of the Two Corners properties.