Bob Solari: Seven50 super regional planning initiative does not reflect values Indian River County holds dear — low density, limited government

NOT SO GOOD: It doesn’t reflect values of conservative Indian River County

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By Bob Solari
December 16, 2012

Years ago Indian River County made a choice to become and stay a low-density county. The result of this choice, to become the low-density that we are today, is perhaps the most defining feature of our community. As an elected official in Indian River County the fact that we are a low-density county is brought up more often than any other aspect of our community as that which separates us from our neighbors to the south and that is mentioned most often as the reason why our residents have chosen to live in Indian River.

For me, the second most important feature of Indian River is that ours is a conservative county. When I ran in 2008, I ran on representative democracy. Up for re-election this summer I ran on a platform of liberty and limited government. I promised to continue my work toward a government limited to the effective delivery of essential services.

I take low-density, limited government, representative democracy, local decision-making, fiscal responsibility and liberty to be core values of the majority of the citizens of Indian River County. This is why I believe that Indian River County made a mistake when it joined the Sustainable Communities Initiative now known as Seven50 in October 2011.

The Seven50 group is a super regional planning council consisting of Indian River County and the six counties to the south of us, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe. It was established under the auspices of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation, and awarded a $4.25 million grant. The basis for and goals of this grant are found in the Seven50 foundation document, the “Regional Vision and Blueprint for Economic Prosperity.”

This document notes that it “will address the deeply held values in the region.” These values include building the largest and most inclusive bureaucracy possible, first to develop and then to implement the plan. Beyond that: “The work plan will ensure that: … Inequities within the region will be addressed in both decision making and outcomes … and will include specific actions for implementation by public, private, and civic partners … ” (Emphasis added)

Just these few lines show the deeply held values of Seven50 include larger government, more central planning moving away from local control, a clear move away from a society providing an equal opportunity for all to one determining outcomes for all, and one that seeks to control not just governmental organizations, but as much of the private sector and civic community as possible. This is clearly a move away from a community-centered society helped by government, to a state-centered society controlling every aspect of our community.

“Since the Vision and Blueprint will take many years to fully realize,” we may be sure that the bureaucracy that it creates will be with us for decades. As will its cost as it seeks to force local governments to implement the “model ordinances and policies … adopted by regional jurisdictions.”

The seven counties that make up the region have, according to the 2010 census, a combined population of 6,199,860 people. Miami-Dade makes up 40 percent of the region with a population of 2,496,435. Indian River County makes up just more than 2 percent of the region with a population of 138,028. When the regional jurisdiction comes to impose its model ordinances on us, does anyone really expect our voices to be heard over the voices of Miami-Dade and Broward?

I look south and I see counties that I am sure its residents are proud to live in. These communities were built using “the deeply held values in the region.” But they are not Indian River County, the county I live in and love. Indian River County was built with a very different set of deeply held local values.

My fear is that this set of values, the set of values that I was elected to foster, will be lost in the super-regional Seven50 group.

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