Fantastic Turnout for Sebastian City’s First Annexation Workshop – Sebastian Daily
The first workshop was on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., but many locals showed up 15 minutes earlier to gather information about Sebastian’s annexation. A second workshop is scheduled for Thursday June 30, 2022, at 11:30 a.m. inside the hemicycle.
The city of Sebastian was well prepared for this workshop with maps on display and plenty of information for citizens to read. Many staff and board members were also available to answer questions.
Jeff Bass of Graves Brothers, the owner, was also on hand to answer questions from the public or county staff.
Vice Mayor Fred Jones and Council Members Ed Dodd, Chris Nunn and Bob McPartlan also attended.
Indian River County Commissioners Susan Adams, Joe Flescher, Joe Earman, Peter O’Bryan, County Administrator Jason Brown and County Attorney Dylan Reingold also attended.
“We must have the ability to provide jobs for growth and affordable housing for families. These are all things that we will be looking at as the property comes along. None of this is planned at this time,” City Manager Paul Carlisle said. Sebastian Daily.
Carlisle said the landowner is willing to work with the city and help ensure sustainability as the area develops, and it will be years before homes are built.
“We did a great job managing Sebastian; I think we will do a great job managing this property as well,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle encouraged everyone to ask the staff questions and said they would be addressed at the next workshop on June 30.
Lisa Frazier, Director of Community Development, said much of the information presented at the workshop was provided to the city by the applicant (landowner).
“What we’re presenting here is basically a summary of what annexation is, when annexation has happened in the past, Florida’s statutes for voluntary annexation,” Frazier told attendees at the ‘workshop.
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Frazier said a voluntary annexation occurs when the owner comes to their home and requests that their land be incorporated into the city. The owner has chosen to have a “mixed land use”, which means commercial and residential in simple terms.
“That’s all we have today for this property, just the land use. We don’t have zoning, it will continue to be agriculture, we don’t have a development plan, so we can’t tell anyone what the future homes will be or anything of that nature,” said Fraizer.
A couple who disagreed with annexation said they saw it happening “in the south” near Fort. Lauderdale. They claim that promises were made and not kept by their city or developer. Another person said she never “retired” and didn’t think Sebastian should grow up.
A few residents were skeptical about the reason for “such an annexation rush,” questioning the real motives of the landowner.
But while fewer people disagreed with annexation, most townspeople at the workshop say growth is inevitable and prefer the city to control development rather than the county. They also feel that we should rush to annex and build as there is a housing shortage in the area.
The same people from environmental groups who provided misinformation about annexation in 2019 were also present at the workshop.
The Pelican Island Audubon Society and Friends of San Sebastianboth are out-of-town nonprofits with offices provided by the county, still say the town of Sebastian should stay out of annexation.
An environmentalist has suggested the city buy out the entire property and turn it into a permanent wildlife sanctuary until someone asks, “How much money do you have?”
The owner has a few options if the property does not annex to Sebastian. First, he couldn’t do anything and allow the county to control and develop it, which would mean more outside residents using Sebastian’s roads, parks, and boat ramps without paying any tax to the town. Another option would be to allow Fellsmere to annex it since the property is on its border. Or, the landowner could create his own city, but the inhabitants would still use Sebastian’s resources.
But ultimately, the landowner wants Sebastian to control him, because they’ve been annexing land to the city for almost 100 years already. Most residents of Sebastian live on land already annexed to the city.
Since the workshop, the city is now holding two meetings with county staff to discuss utilities and general issues.