SEBASTIAN – The Sebastian City Council moved another step closer to making a 50-foot buffer between the municipal airport and Roseland Road official Wednesday evening.
The council approved an ordinance that would establish the buffer and allow the city the ability to replace or improve existing signage within the buffer. That ordinance is set for a public hearing and potential final vote at the Jan. 13 council meeting.
The buffer is a 50-foot stretch of vegetation that runs parallel to Roseland Road on the Sebastian Municipal Airport’s property. It serves as a transition from the airport to the residential community.
More than a dozen Roseland residents and representatives from local groups sat through a nearly 3-hour long meeting before the buffer item was discussed.
Bob Denton, a Roseland resident, addressed the council, noting his support for the ordinance.
“We thought it was in place,” he said, explaining that in 2002 officials and residents alike were under the impression the buffer was part of the airport’s master plan.
It wasn’t until recently that anyone questioned the official existence of the buffer. A business had placed a sign within the buffer area, sparking questions as to why the buffer had not been mapped out.
Sebastian resident and former council candidate David DeVirgilio asked the council if creating the ordinance would require the city to replant or maintain the buffer, and if so, to what cost.
City Manager Al Minner responded, saying that there is no requirement in the ordinance to compel the city to plant more vegetation, though the city could choose to do so if it wanted to.
Also, Minner said, the city has the right to eradicate invasive and exotic plants from the buffer and remove dead material.
Council members discussed the type of vegetation and landscaping in the buffer and debated whether it would be more aesthetically pleasing to have manicured shrubs and such rather than native scrub.
Councilman Don Wright brought up the issue, noting that the ordinance would keep the city from being able to put in what he called nicer landscaping – such as that seen in Vero Beach along the walls of neighborhoods like Grand Harbor.
Councilman Jim Hill said that the Roseland community might say that what is there now – mostly native scrub – is more beautiful than what Wright proposed.
“I suppose that’s in the eye of the beholder,” Hill said.
Councilwoman Andrea Coy agreed, noting that the Roseland community has sought to keep the native landscaping. She added that the buffer is directly across from the conservation land to the west.
“It just wouldn’t match,” Coy said of having native vegetation on one side of the road and manicured landscaping on the other.