INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Nearly 160 multi-family homes have been approved for a 20-acre site on the south side of State Road 60, west of 58th Avenue, despite one resident’s opposition.
The Board of County Commissioners Tuesday voted unanimously to approve the developer’s request to increase the density allowed on the site, even though Sebastian resident and County Commission District 2 candidate Carolyn Corum urged the board to oppose it.
“Residential development is really killing the economy,” she told the board prior to its vote, explaining that there are already too many homes on the market. “I don’t think you should vote for this.”
Corum added that the site should be zoned for industrial or commercial development because that would have a positive impact on the county’s economy.
A representative for the developer, SR 60 Vero LLC, agreed, saying that the owner would rather have the ability to build commercial or industrial uses on the property, but the county has denied the repeated requests.
Community Development Director Bob Keating told commissioners Tuesday that there is already plenty of commercial development in the area of State Road 60 and 58th Avenue, which is why county planners have recommended against more of the same.
Instead, Keating said the denser residential development would offer housing opportunities for Indian River State College students and others moving into the area. The multi-family complex would also be within an easy bike ride, long walk or short drive from various employment sites and shopping and entertainment venues.
Prior to the increase of the allowable housing density, the site was approved for 119 multi-family units under the Residential Multi-family 6 zoning, which allows six units per acre.
Commissioners approved a Residential Multi-family 8 zoning, allowing eight units per acre – or an increase of 40 units.
Commissioner Gary Wheeler expressed support for the increased density, noting that there is probably no one on the board “more against increasing density” than he is.
“This is an excellent location,” Wheeler said of the request, adding that the site would serve as a buffer for the lower density Sixty Oaks subdivision.
The site is a former citrus grove that has been cleared, according to county records, and has been invaded by Brazilian pepper trees, which is an invasive and non-native species.