Last night, the Sebastian City Council voted to move forward with the voluntary annexation with the Graves Brothers, voting 4-1. A public hearing is now scheduled for September 14, 2022.
The only council member who opposed the annexation was Bob McPartlan, who thought the city should create a plan before proceeding. McPartlan also wanted the city to reach out to the environmental groups and county officials to avoid future litigation.
However, Mayor Jim Hill said a plan would take time through the proper process with the Planning & Zoning board. Hill also said a public hearing for citizens will decide how the future of the land is developed.
In addition, Hill reminded McPartlan that the city needed to vote to annex the land before they could create any plan moving forward.
Several citizens spoke during public input, most in favor of the annexation, citing that Sebastian needs to control its growth since it’s inevitable.
Those in favor of the Sebastian annexation are concerned that the county will build whatever it wants without any input from Sebastian citizens. The county has already created multiple projects around the city without reaching out. In addition, Sebastian has several ordinances to protect the city. For example, the city restricts buildings to two stories.
But, the county is now adding tall buildings on the south end of Indian River Drive without reaching out to the citizens of Sebastian first. Sebastian residents are concerned about the impact on the city’s infrastructure. And, the environmentalists have said nothing about it.
Many citizens are afraid to leave the land to the county, as they fear their development plans will place more burdens on Sebastian. For example, new county residents will use the city’s docks, boat ramps, and other resources without paying any tax to maintain them. Annexation brings taxes into the city and keeps taxes low for the citizens.
Those who opposed are the environmental groups (i.e. Pelican Island Audubon Society, Friends of St. Sebastian) and its supporters, the same few that supported three city council candidates that were removed from public office after the recall in Sebastian.
Many claim taxes will go up if Sebastian annexes, which city officials say is not true. Officials say developers pay for the new infrastructure, not the current taxpayers.
Diana Bolton, who belongs to several environmental groups and publicly supported the three recalled candidates (Damien Gilliams, Pamela Parris, and Charles Maulti), also opposed the annexation. She also attended the illegal meeting when Gilliams tried to appoint himself as the new Mayor. A jury convicted Damien Gilliams and Pamela Parris of perjury charges and violating the Sunshine Law.
Members of the Pelican Island Audubon also spoke during public input, opposing the annexation and suggesting to leave it to the county to develop.
During our last Sebastian Daily citizens poll about the annexation, 73 percent of people voted in favor.