VERO BEACH — It’s not totally clear when in the city’s history the now defunct St. Edward’s Lower School site was designated for education and public utility uses, but the Vero Beach City Council voted Tuesday to meld it into the surrounding Riomar neighborhood.
The 5.74-acre parcel on Club Drive, which once housed a social club and a post office and for the past 40 years or so a school, was a zoning anomaly in the middle of a residential area.
On a map, the whole Riomar neighborhood was represented in yellow with a rectangle of the St. Edward’s campus in bright pink.
“That magenta looks wrong. It was a mistake, it shouldn’t be there,” said Real Estate Attorney Bruce Barkett, who represented the petitioner.
In response to a request by St. Edward’s School, the City Council voted 4-1 with Councilman Craig Fletcher dissenting, to allow residential development of up to three homes per acre on the site. The way the restrictions are written, each lot would have to be at least 1,500 square feet.
St. Edward’s School, which consolidated campuses to its Upper School in the South Beach area has been in various negotiations to sell the land in Riomar.
One potential buyer wanted the option of leasing the property to a charter school company headquartered in South Florida, but the School Board of Indian River County did not approve the charter school application.
Also, the Board of Trustees of St. Edward’s voted not to allow a school — which might be in competition with the private, independent St. Edward’s School, to be located on the site.
After receiving a flier in their mailboxes, about 75 Riomar residents showed up at the Vero Beach City Council meeting out of concerns about keeping the density at 3 homes per acre or less to maintain harmony with the rest of the neighborhood and to protect property values.
The concerns arose from fears over a future City Council being able to approve a site plan with up to six homes per acre.
“Do whatever you think is necessary to protect the zoning in Riomar,” said 15-year Riomar resident and long-time Indian River Neighborhood Association member Harry Blynn. “Please help us . . . Vero Beach is a community of neighborhoods.”
The City Council instructed Community Development Director Tim McGarry to come back with some options for a long-term or permanent solution to the Riomar residents’ petition for a “guarantee” that this higher level of density would never be allowed to proceed.