Editorial/Opinion – A couple of days ago, another news outlet published an article suggesting that 9,000 more homes could be on the horizon in Fellsmere. The story incited a lot of fear among residents in Sebastian, and we found a lot of misinformation.
Let’s begin by talking about the 5,800-acre property itself.
It’s located on the south end of Fellsmere near Interstate 95. It’s nowhere near Sebastian. The property is a ranch owned by the Corrigan family.
We originally learned about the potential sale last year. However, people familiar with the property never thought of 9,000 residential homes on the property.
The author of the article assumes that every acre will contain homes. But to understand just how many homes can be built, one must understand how zoning operates. You can’t create new subdivisions without a lot of extra land for utilities, parks and recreation, and commercial properties. In other words, don’t count on this property having 9,000 homes if the land-use changes from cattle to residential.
Yes, traffic is bad because more people are moving here, but people still think we are a little fishing village. I got news for you; those days ended 25 years ago.
Residents who bulldozed trees to build their homes in Sebastian are now complaining. They didn’t “retire to this” growth or traffic. I get it, but you can’t stop people from moving here.
The solution? We expand out west. If we don’t annex land west of us into the city of Sebastian, newcomers will build anyway, and we won’t get a tax roll. They will use our docks, parks, and roadways without paying a dime. We need to expand west instead of building up our inner city.
The same news outlet also printed misinformation in the past, where we had to publish the facts about the annexation in 2019. It misled people into thinking that thousands of homes and septic tanks would be installed. The story also suggested that the county would not provide utilities, which was inaccurate. The misinformation caused an uproar in the community, leading residents (and non-city residents) to ambush a meeting in the Sebastian City Council chambers. The City Council had meetings and a workshop to discuss the annexation with the public, but no one showed.
Even if the property is sold to a developer, it will take years of planning and zoning. One person I spoke with familiar with planning and zoning said it could take 20 years.
We have witnessed growth in the area like no other. People are still moving here, and we have no housing available. As a result, Sebastian residents are being packed in like sardines as every lot is being built on because the annexation to build west of here fell through.
The Sebastian annexation ended with a minor technicality, and it was a non-profit out of Vero Beach that took the City of Sebastian to court. So why is it okay for other cities and the county to build everywhere they want while the same environmental non-profit sits quietly? It’s hypocrisy at best.
If you want to know more about why annexation is needed in our town, please read my Sebastian needs more land to control growth editorial.