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By Ed Bierschenk
January 08, 2013
VERO BEACH — The City Council Tuesday joined the County Commission in withdrawing from a long-range regional planning effort covering the southeast Florida region from Indian River County into Monroe County.
The council voted 4-1 to withdraw from being a part of the Southeast Florida Regional Partnership and its Seven50 planning process, which is funded by a $4.25 million federal grant.
Vice Mayor Tracy Carroll was opposed to withdrawing from the process and stressed the need of having the city’s voice heard.
The meeting drew one of the largest crowds in years to the Vero Beach City Hall, leaving some people standing in the hallway. A number of those in attendance expressed concern the 50-year planning effort could lead to outside bureaucrats usurping local planning and result in unwanted regulations imposed on the community
Resident Dorothy Frances said the “camel’s nose is under our tent” and if the council did not bump it out now, Vero Beach might not be big enough to shove it out later.
Some speakers brought up Agenda 21, a 20-year-old United Nations initiative that references sustainable development and is seen by some as a way to exert control over property rights.
Marcela Camblor-Cutsaimanis, director of the Seven50 project, said it is a voluntary process to have a regional dialogue to create an investment plant for the southeast Florida region. She said the planning effort is a way for the various groups within the seven counties review together issues such as education, transportation, and tourism.
“Seven50 is not Agenda 21,” said Camblor-Cutsaimanis, who shared she also had some problems with that 20-year-old nonbinding agreement.
Seven50 representatives set up a table outside city hall and tried to dispel what they said were “wrong rumors that there is any link between Seven50 and the United Nations.” According to the group, the Seven50 plan has no enforcement mechanism and each county can decide whether or not to implement the ideas coming out of the plan.
Representatives of the Indian River Tea Party and the Taxpayers Association of Indian River County said both their groups were opposed to the plan which they felt ran counter to their ideas for limited government.
Toby Hill, chairman of the local tea party organization, said that the county’s idea of planning is far different from areas such as Miami and Fort Lauderdale and spoke of the impracticality of planning 50 years in advance.
Indian River County will still have representation in the planning effort. Representatives from Sebastian, Fellsmere, and various other agencies such as the Indian River County Metropolitan Planning Organization continue to participate in the process.