Indian River planning organization sticking with Seven50

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By Henry A. Stephens
February 13, 2013

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, a panel of city and county elected officials, Wednesday remained part of the Southeast Florida Regional Partnership and its “Seven50” planning effort — when a tie vote prevented the MPO from dropping out.

“We don’t need the federal government to come in and tell us how to do what we’re already doing beautifully,” Vero Beach resident LaMarre Notargiacomo told the MPO board.

Notargiacomo was one of a handful of residents who urged the board to drop from Seven50 — just as the County Commission, the Vero Beach City Council and the Indian River Shores Town Council did in recent weeks.

Partnership leaders have said Indian River County is still part of the region as long as some cities or other groups stay in. And that means the partnership would continue to include Indian River County in dealing with federal and state officials.

The Southeast Florida Regional Partnership, founded by the Treasure Coast and South Florida regional planning councils, use the name Seven50 to signify looking ahead 50 years for Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Some residents opposed the idea of Washington bureaucrats and Miami consultants forcing the county to join the region to qualify for federal grants. Some said regionalism would minimize local efforts.

“We are already regionalized,” County Commissioner Peter O’Bryan said. “We cooperate with other counties on a lot of legislation, such as the Indian River Lagoon.”

O’Bryan, one of the partnership’s board members, cast the sole dissenting vote on Dec. 18 when fellow commissioners voted to drop out. Since all county commissioners sit on the MPO board, O’Bryan wasn’t required to represent his colleagues’ views Wednesday.

He said the Seven50 plan would represent the area to state and federal lawmakers, not impose rules on counties.

“If we stay by ourselves, we will fail in a global economy,” he said.

County Commission Chairman Joe Flescher made the motion to drop out and got votes from Commissioner Bob Solari, Vero Beach City Councilwoman Pilar Turner and Shores Town Councilwoman Frannie Atchison.

However, they tied 4-4 against O’Bryan, Fellsmere Mayor Susan Adams, Sebastian City Councilwoman Andrea Coy and Sebastian Mayor Bob McPartlan.

McPartlan was absent, but attended and voted by phone. County Attorney Alan Polackwich said that was allowed since there already was a quorum present without him.

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