Save the Date - December 6 City Council meeting/hearing
VBPA has filed an appeal to overturn the Planning and Zoning Board’s approval of the City’s plan to build a massive boat barn at the City Marina.
Please stand with us as we take this next step. December 6 is our next opportunity to reduce the size of the boat barn. Please attend and express your concerns to City Council. In the meantime, call, write, or email individual Council members. And attend a brainstorming strategy session planned for November 29, where we will consider next steps. If Council doesn’t listen on the 6th, we can appeal to a higher court.
We are growing in numbers. Almost 3,000 (45% of voters) voted for our cause.
Please stay Involved and help us grow our alliance! We welcome your participation and collaboration as we fight to mitigate the impacts of unchecked growth on the Lagoon and broader environment. For example, the continuing threat to our live oaks is only now being recognized, and recently, a permit to cut an ancient live oak was revoked following public outcry.
This is our time. Your voice can make a difference. Years from now this moment will have passed. We welcome your participation, because we need your help.
Keeping the faith,
Karen Marcil, Leslie Tilley, and Florence Ann Roberts
Vero Beach Preservation Alliance
HOW OUR SUPPORT IS GROWING!
We collected nearly 1,500 petitions to put our referendum on the ballot, and then twice that number of voters agreed. This was a strong show of support in the face of the campaign to link our referendum with the City-led Three Corners project. The claim that a vote for our referendum was a vote against Three Corners swayed a number of voters, but our referendum still got almost twice the number of votes that were cast in opposition to the Three Corners.
Today in Court…Your City at Work
In an unseemly attempt to sway the public view and influence the voter, the COVB refused to follow the instructions of the judge today. instead, they used their time in court to continue to spread misinformation and spark unfounded fear and confusion.
Please take note, People!!!
In the courtroom was our current council and staff–the pro-development group who huddled together, and laughed, but presented nothing of substance in the courtroom, all while.using our taxpayer money to bring this action. They have never attempted to discuss the referendum with the VBPA. Instead, they are attempting to turn a grassroots initiative–one that allows the voice of the people to be heard in how our public owned properties are developed–into an ugly, divisive battle.
Why? The answer was loud and clear… 3 Corners
Even before the trial, Irina Woeful (3 Corners PR person), in an attempt to defame the VBPA, emailed illegal claims to her followers and others accusing the VBPA of illegal acts. If not retracted immediately, severe legal consequences will follow.
Questions brought forward regarding the 3 Corners referendum: (Not relevant to the case but worth discussion since the city is focused on their money and not on the rights of the citizens)
The 1st referendum, regarding the “3 Corners” project, does not have the words “3 Corners” in it. In response to the question, “How would you know what you are voting on? Is that confusing to the average voter?” COVB said that the voter would just need to visit their website.
The 1st referendum for the “3 Corners” asks for the voter to approve leasing the property…yet no lease exists for the voter to approve. Is that confusing to the average voter? Is it even legal to do this? There are cases that say this is indeed illegal, it was turned down in Miami Beach for just that reason.
The legal case is clear and based on the law–namely, “Is the language of the referendum valid?” The impacts of the amendment are not what was on trial today, and yet the city seized the opportunity to muddy the waters and bring witness after witness to testify about the impacts on “donor contributions.” Donor contributions are more important than the voter? Under perjury, the city of Vero Beach witnesses testified Donors money is more important than the actual residents of Vero Beach.
Important facts that question the credibility of the COVB:
City Manager Monty Falls said he did not remember when he learned about the referendum. Even when shown the email sent to him about the referendum on 07/7/22, he still claimed not to remember and said he may or may not have read this email. His response stretches credulity, that the City’s self-described CEO would not remember an email about something as important as a change to the City Charter.
City Manager Monty Falls, City Attorney and City Clerk sent altered referendum language to the Supervisor of Elections (SOE). The word ‘or’ was changed to ‘’of’ which would have made the language ambiguous! Who would not use copy and paste when exact language is the most important part of the referendum? Would this have made the referendum at question invalid? It was a shock to learn that this happened, and it is remarkable that any City would do this, as it could suggest either incompetence or criminal intent. Fortunately, the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) placed the original, correct language on the ballot.
There were other discrepancies in both the City’s process, and statements.
Leaseholders seemed to be the City’s other main focus. (While they aren’t relevant to the case, the City makes it worth discussion by constantly beating this dead horse.)
Why would the city not present the leases as exhibits to support the claim that the referendum in question would adversely impact the leaseholder? Just for theatrics?
Barry Segal (attorney for Dog Park and VB Rowing) was a witness for the plaintiff. He could not, or would not, answer how the referendum in question would impact those leased properties.
Leases on city-owned properties that are for public or civic purpose which also serve a recreational/artistic/cultural purpose (Museum, Dog Park, Riverside Theater,...) are not required to go to referendum per the charter (5.05). The citizen-led referendum would only apply to leases that are not for public or civic purpose. Why would the COVB be remiss in sharing this information? Is it to sway the vote? Is it to ensure the success of the marina expansion and 3 Corners?
Voters/City Taxpayers - Big questions to ponder!
So proud of our brilliant legal team and passionate expert witnesses. Richard Grosso, Grant Gilmore and Michael Williams. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
As expected, the council appointed P & Z board, acted as they had been directed by staff regardless of the compelling testimony. Appeal as anticipated to follow.
Key points worth pondering:
-The P&Z board approved the site plan without any discussion after hearing hours of testimony. (that's a head scratcher), although it was clear that they resonated with the testimony presented by our team. One member spoke to her concern that the City code does not currently address impacts beyond the project site, effectively tying the hands of the board. There was mention of the building on 60, which so many citizens have spoken against. When it came time to make a motion to approve, there was a long pause before the chair finally began the resolution, only to pause again, until finally the clerk voiced the entire resolution. Then there was another pause before it was seconded. There appeared to be clear distress on the part of the members, who nonetheless had been instructed to vote only on the project’s adherence to the zoning code.
-The board is directed to focus only on the site itself, and whether the project follows the zoning rules. They could have considered the impact on the lagoon, the environment and the neighborhood, but they did not.
-The Indian River Lagoon by the city marina has one of the highest mortality rates of manatees due to boat strikes (this year). And in Indian River County this year, boat strikes is the greatest cause of manatee mortality. This is the reality of what occurs in the narrowest part of the Indian River Lagoon. With more boats there will be more manatee deaths.
-Just south of the Barber Bridge is a nursery for spotted sea trout. Some of the last viable seagrass beds are also to be found there. More boats and bigger boats (propellers & wakes) heading south to the inlet will jeopardize the primary food source for the manatees who are starving.
-More boats, bigger boats will absolutely have a detrimental impact on the health of the lagoon. The wakes of larger boats have a correspondingly larger impact on marine life.
-48 parking spaces are required for a building of the proposed size. 21 of the required parking spaces are planned to be off site and pushed to shared spots in the current marina via sidewalk on Indian River Dr. 500+ feet away.
-The approval by the P&Z Board included a waiver of an exception allowing for shared parking to be more than 500’ away from the proposed building.
-Stormwater mitigation does not compensate for the negative impact of adding more bigger boats to the Indian River Lagoon in the narrowest most fragile part of the entire lagoon.
-The city is doing the bare minimum required on the proposed site by state law to mitigate stormwater runoff into the lagoon. A representative from the Indian River Neighborhood voiced their concern, Vero Beach should lead by example and do more than the minimum required. New laws are coming soon and those at a minimum should be implemented in the plan.
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