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By Sade M. Gordon
December 17, 2013
MARTIN COUNTY — After months of protest at County Commission meetings, opponents of the Seven50 plan were pleased Tuesday when commissioners voted to opt out of the plan in February.
Commissioners voted 4 to 1, with Commissioner Doug Smith dissenting, to withdraw from the regional plan after the Feb. 22 completion of a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the planning process.
“That’s (Seven50) not how we want to plan,” said Commissioner John Haddox, who made the motion to opt out of Seven50. “I will not encourage top-down control government planning by applying for grants that accomplish nothing but filling planners’ pockets with taxpayers’ dollars.”
Martin joined the regional partnership of seven counties in 2010. The goal of Seven50 was to draft a comprehensive plan for economic development and quality of life for seven Southeast Florida counties — including those on the Treasure Coast — for the next 50 years.
Indian River and St. Lucie counties have already withdrawn from Seven50 at the urging of its opponents, who say it is a biased plan that promotes urbanization and takes away the rights of local governments and citizens.
“As I see it, it has several problems,” said Alan Schlesinger, a District 18 Congressional candidate who opposed the plan. “It creates another unnecessary, bureaucratic level of government for central planning.”
The arguments against the plan have been varied over the past several months — with some comparing it to socialism and others describing theories of consolidating all seven counties into one.
“I’m … no fan of the opponents of the Seven50 plan,” said Commissioner Anne Scott, who said she opposed the plan and the methods of protest by some opponents. “I’ve had fingers poked in my face. … I’ve had threats of election outcomes.”
Some protesters said they would continue to come to commission meetings to voice their disapproval of the Seven50 plan, because they felt residents needed to know about it.
“The Seven50 plan clearly … is government-centric,” said Jerry Kyckelhahn, a Seven50 opponent. “There’s no plan. … There’s a wish list with no concern for market realities.”
WHAT IS SEVEN50?
Seven50 is a cooperative effort formed in 2010 by the Treasure Coast and South Florida Regional Planning councils to draft a comprehensive plan for economic development and quality of life. The seven counties initially expected to participate in the project were Broward, Indian River, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Palm Beach and St. Lucie. Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties have opted out.
For more information, go to www.seven50.org.
Click here to see what Indian River County commissioners did Tuesday in regards to Seven50.
WHO’S IN, WHO’S OUT
Governmental agencies that have opted out of the Seven50 regional plan:
Indian River County Commission, School Board and Metropolitan Planning Organization
City of Vero Beach and town of Indian River Shores
St. Lucie County Commission
Martin County Commission (as of Feb. 22)
Governmental agencies still in the Seven50 regional plan:
The Treasure Coast and South Florida regional planning councils
Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties and their cities
Cities of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie and Stuart
Indian River State College
St. Lucie County School Board, Transportation Planning Organization and Economic Development Council
Martin County Municipal Planning Organization, Economic Development Council and Children’s Service Council