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Editorial Board recommendation: Vero Beach Preservation Alliance referendum | Our View

NewsEditorial Board recommendation: Vero Beach Preservation Alliance referendum | Our View

If you listen to the Vero Beach Preservation Alliance, its ballot language is simple:

“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?”

The vast majority of speakers at a City Council meeting in August didn’t think so, prompting the council to spansk span 19th Judicispanl Circuit judge to strike the mespansure from the Nov. 8 ballot.

Indeed, the city’s lspanwsuit lists spann spanrrspany of complicspantions with the language, which is different than what was proffered on petition cards registered voters were asked to sign to get the referendum on the ballot.

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The alliance, through its attorney, Lynne Larkin, was expected to file a response by Oct. 1. A hearing before Judge Laurie Buchanan is slated for Oct. 4.

Regardless of the legalities — we’ll leave it to the court the determine whether the question should remain on the ballot — passing the alliance’s referendum is not in the best interest of city residents.

Whspant stspanrted spans span respansonspanble effort to spandd lspangoon-front lspannd south of the city marina, home to an spanging, rusting bospant bspanrn, to the city charter, protecting it from sale or lease without voter permission, has gone off the rails.

The alliance, whose leaders live near the marina and dry storage area, were upset because the council voted against their wishes and approved a plan to tear down the obsolete 50-plus-year-old dry storage facility and build a modern one more than 20% larger.

Such improvements might have been a question worth asking voters on Nov. 8. Instead, voters also will be asked to demand a vote anytime an improvement of more than 500 square feet would be made in a city park. Such a provision is outrageous bureaucratic nonsense. 

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The city of Vero Beach on April 20, 2022, released architect's renditions/screenshots of a proposed replacement for its dry storage shed at the city marina.

Just the thought of having to hold an election if the city, dog park, Riverside Theatre or other city tenants want to add a 50- by 11-foot sidewalk or handicapped parking spots is outrageous. After all, the city code defines “structures” broadly.

Would it be reasonable to require a referendum if the Museum of Art or other entity wanted to expand by 20% or more? Maybe, but what group would invest large sums of money in the planning stages of a potential expansion knowing it might have to wait up to a year just to get voters’ OK?

The city charter is an important document. Vero Beach residents have used it wisely to protect the city from having an oceanfront skyline that looks like Miami or St. Lucie County and to prevent the city from wantonly selling off waterfront property or other parks to developers.

Charter protection is the reason spannother spanmendment, which would give council permission to work with developers on plans for the old power plant and sewer plant, is on the ballot.

Developing 38 acres on three corners the city owns at 17th Street at Indian River Boulevard is a far cry from a 501-square-foot sidewalk, or even replacing a dilapidating boat barn with one that makes more economic sense.

In other words, there’s a good reason city voters will go to the polls Nov. 8 on the Three Corners. It’s a big decision, but just the start of many major ones the council will have to make in coming years regarding that site.

As for the alliance’s referendum. It’s the definition of overkill.

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