What do Vero voters really want?


milt thomas

A Special Call Meeting of the Vero Beach City Council is scheduled for this Thursday, August 25, at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the Election Ballot question set forth by the Vero Beach Preservation Alliance.

The Vero Beach Preservation Alliance did not exist until many voters were outraged that City Council planned to rebuild the City Marina boat storage building into a structure they felt was detrimental to the surrounding area as well as the image of Vero Beach as the beautiful little city by the sea.

Whatever the motivation was to prioritize this project over updating the crumbling Marina infrastructure, we may never know. But the proposed plan struck a nerve, enough to result in creation of the Vero Beach Preservation Alliance. The VBPA then put out a petition to prevent this decision and others like it. How? By recommending City Charter protection – adding the South City Marina/dry storage property to the list of public properties that cannot be altered without a voter referendum. (The City Marina itself is already protected.)

For the petition to be successful, it had to be signed by at least ten percent of eligible City of Vero Beach voters. That number was achieved and the Indian River County Supervisor of Elections certified it.

On this coming Thursday morning at 9:30, City Council will conduct a “Public Forum to Discuss the Election Ballot question set forth by the Vero Beach Preservation Alliance.” Public comments will be followed by a Council discussion of the ballot question.

The wording of that referendum question is as follows:

Shall the City Charter be amended by adding to Section 5.05 the land north of Alex MacWilliam Boat Basin Park/Bob Summers Park designated as South Marina Dry Storage; and adding to listed properties a further restriction on any future structures being added thereto of anything greater than 500 total square feet, or existing structures increased by 20% total size (footprint and volume), without a referendum approval by City voters in favor of same?

What does this have to do with the Three Corners referendum?

Publicist Irina Woelfle, who has worked with DPZ CoDesign founder Andres Duany in developing his firm’s Three Corners Master Plan concept, has a dog in the race regarding Thursday’s meeting. In a recent email, she describes the Vero Beach Preservation Alliance referendum as a “competing and somewhat confusing citizen-led referendum” that if passed, could stop progress on Three Corners and other projects. She goes on to characterize the Marina referendum as part of “a trend nationwide where special interest groups come in at the 11th hour to torpedo what citizens have worked very hard to advance.”

Is it good PR to throw shade on those 1,154 citizens who will also be voting on the Three Corners referendum November 8?


  1. This referendum is obviously illegal on its face! Any referendum in Florida, citizen or government initiated, is limited to a single subject (look it up). This proposed referendum clearly seeks to add the south Marina to the City charter, THEN place limits on all charter properties. (Not to mention that the language in the petition that 1,000 plus people signed was changed substantially by the attorney and the board without input from the signatories.)

  2. I will vote NO on the ballot question because of the impact it will have on Three Corners, the Youth Sailing Club, the Museum, Memorial Island, and other charter properties.

  3. My understanding of the referendum is the main goal is to give the citizens of the City of Vero Beach a voice. A voice to decide and have a say in what the future looks like for Charter-protected properties. The referendum does not stop the progress of three corners.
    It does not stop anything. I don’t think it is confusing. It gives the decision to us, the tax payers and voters of the COVB. We all want VB to be a first class, state -of-the art, beautiful city. It deserves to be maintained in the highest of standards to remain, as called by those who love her the “jewel in the crown” of Florida. The referendum would not change any of this. I will vote YES in November.

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