By Mark Schumann To view original article click here.
VERO BEACH – Wanting to hear more about the much maligned regional planning effort known as Seven50, and concerned to learn if and how the federally funded project might present a “clear and present danger” to Vero Beach and Indian River County, a group of nearly two dozen residents turned out Thursday for a public information meeting conducted by local activist Phyllis Frey.
The meeting, held at the Indian River County Main Library, was promoted by the Indian River Tea Party though broadcast emails sent out over the previous week.
Seven50 is a regional planning effort involving the South Florida and the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Councils, along with county and municipal governments, school boards, colleges and universities and businesses such as Florida Power & Light.
The major regional planning initiative has had the support and involvement of seven county commissions –until Dec. 18, that is, when the Indian River County Commission bowed to pressure from local opponents of Seven50 and voted to end its participation in the project.
“Seven50” continues to have the support of six South Florida Counties — St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Dade and Monroe – as well as participation from more than 120 municipalities and other organizations, including colleges, including Indian River State College, and major businesses such as Florida Power & Light.
At it’s Jan. 8 meeting, the Vero Beach City Council, at the request of Mayor Craig Fletcher, will hear from representatives of Seven50, as well as from Frey and others opposed to the city’s continued involvement in what they see as a threat to local control of zoning and other aspects of municipal government.
According to information handed out at Thursday’s meeting, opponents of Seven50 fear the regional planning initiative will lead to a step-by-step abolition of property rights, the indoctrination of youth to prepare them for global citizenship and ultimately control and reduction of the human population.
Frey told the group gathered at the Library Thursday that the Seven50 project is closely linked to the United Nation’s Agenda for the 21st Century, which she said has a clear socialist agenda. “They plan to steal a generation and indoctrinate them to transfer loyalty from the family to the state,” and ultimately, Frey said, “to a one-world, global government.”
During Thursday’s meeting, Frey showed a short video, “Agenda 21 for Dummies.” Speakers featured in the video warned that regional planning efforts such as Seven50, which place an emphasis on sustainable development, would lead to federalized living space, loss of private property rights, the restructuring of the family unit, and the surrender of national sovereignty to a unified, one-world government organized around socialist principles.
Frey said the Seven50 plan includes a vision for attracting to Vero Beach millions of tourists via Amtrak to “crowd our beaches.” The latest proposal for an Amtrak station in Vero Beach, however, called for just 16 parking paces.
Frey, along with many other opponents of Seven50 who spoke at the County Commission meeting Dec. 18, contend regional planners want to re-zone the downtown area to allow for a “transit village,” which, they say, will consist of high-rise, high-density, low-income housing. “They want to take away our cars and make us dependent on mass transit,” Frey said.
Representatives of the Seven50 group counter that their mission is quite different. First, they point out that participation in the planning process is voluntary. The only commitment of participants is to engage in a conversation about sustainable development for South Florida over the next 50 years, they say.
Seven50 is funded by a grant jointly issues through the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, and is part of a nationwide effort called the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Supporters say it is a broad leap to connect regional planning efforts to Agenda 21. Others argue that many of the priorities outlined in Agenda 21 make perfect sense moving into the 21st Century.
According to the Seven50 web site, (seven50.org), the project seeks to develop “a blueprint for growing a more prosperous, more desirable Southeast Florida during the next 50 years and beyond. The plan is being developed to help ensure a vibrant and resilient economy, and stewardship of the fragile ecosystem in what is quickly becoming one of the world’s most important mega-regions.”
County Commissioner Peter O’Bryan, the only commissioner who supported continuing engagement in Seven50, said none of the seven counties, 121 municipalities and other organizations such as Indian River State College and FPL are committed to sign on to any part of the final plan. The county’s only pledge, he said, was to remain a participant in a conversation about the future of Southeast Florida.
Though some business and political leaders will say privately and off the record they think the city and county have nothing to loose by keeping their seats at the table, they also give the strong impression that supporting Seven50 is not a battle they are willing to fight.
At a recent Republican Men’s meeting Fletcher indicated he may attempt to press for a vote next Tuesday, in hopes the city will follow the County Commission’s lead in dropping out of Seven50.
“If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re going to wind up being the meal,” said one Seven50 supporter, expressing regret over the county’s decision to drop out of the regional planning talks. Given there momentum and commitment, though, it appears Frey and her group may have their way with the City Council as well.