Local Planning Agency again grants strong support for Pineland Prairie

Local Planning Agency again grants strong support
for Pineland Prairie

STUART—The first reviewing agency to grant Pineland Prairie a unanimous vote of approval back in March recently rendered an additional 5-0 decision in our favor.

On June 21, the Martin County Local Planning Agency (LPA)—composed of citizens appointed by county commissioners and tasked with reviewing and making recommendations on proposed projects—once again granted its support of Pineland Prairie, this time recommending approval for the proposed Form-Based Code and accompanying rezoning requests.

“I don’t want to throw any obstacles in the way of this project,” said Joe Banfi, LPA member, “because it’s one of the best projects I’ve ever seen.”

The LPA decision comes on the heels of a recent unanimous approval of the project by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, as well as an endorsement by the respected statewide environmental organization 1000 Friends of Florida.

Landowner Knight Kiplinger, of Sewall’s Point, who conceived the Pineland Prairie concept and is taking it through the review process, told the LPA, “You were the first governmental body to weigh in on this, and I appreciate the risk that you were taking. I hope you are heartened by the fact that additional bodies—both governmental and quasi-governmental and nonprofit—have come to similar conclusions as yours.”

The LPA decision is conditional on the Pineland Prairie team continuing to work closely with county staff on the administrative process to apply the Form-Based Code, a detailed framework for assuring the community is developed in accordance with the original proposal.

“We’re committed to a process that is consistent with the comp plan, based on processes that are internal now, adding level of scrutiny, and delivering a compliance-ready package,” Marcela Camblor-Cutsaimanis, a lead planner on the project, said to the LPA. “Certainly, the Pineland Prairie team has thoroughly enjoyed working with the experts of the Martin County Growth Management Department. We’ve appreciated the ways they have strengthened our proposal.”

The county staff seems to feel similarly, as Nicki Van Vonno, head of the county’s Growth Management Department, made clear. “We think this is a very exciting proposal and we’re looking forward to it,” says Van Vonno.

In its 5-0 vote to rezone the property’s Limited Industrial Zoning District and Agricultural Ranchette Zoning Districts to the Planned Mixed-Use-Village District, LPA Member Joe Banfi made an important point.

“Some people might perceive this as an agricultural exchange for urban development,” he said. “But there’s really a lot of [potential] density that’s out there now, with the industrial [entitlement on the current land]. To my way of thinking, it’s almost a wash with the density that’s available under the old land use vs. what is being proposed today.”

Scott Watson of the LPA best captured my sentiments when he remarked: “Let’s ask that the applicant work diligent with staff, and obviously they are, and let’s get this thing rolling.”

After voting 4-1 in April to transmit the proposal to various state agencies to review, the Martin County Commission will review for final approval in August.

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