TOWN OF ORCHID — Publix has decided to move forward with its plan to build a downsized supermarket that would anchor a six-store shopping area in the southeastern corner of the Town of Orchid.
Town Manager Noah Powers said he was contacted Monday morning by Publix representatives who told him the company will submit an application to develop the seven-acre parcel on the north side of County Road 510, immediately west of Jungle Trail.
Publix has a contract to purchase the property from Vero Beach developer Ken Puttick.
“The town staff likely will have a pre-application meeting with Publix to discuss the process,” Powers said. “Then, once the application is submitted, it will go to the Local Planning Agency and, ultimately, the Town Council.”
Both the LPA and Town Council must approve Publix’s application, which will include a site plan and traffic-impact study, but they are legally required to conduct quasi-judicial public hearings before voting on the proposal.
Neither the LPA nor the Town Council meet during the summer months, however, so the soonest the plan could be formally approved is the fall.
“We’re probably looking at November for the LPA and December for the Town Council,” Powers said, adding that he didn’t know when Publix would submit its application.
As for his reaction to Publix’s decision, Powers said he was “pleased for the town to be able to evaluate the formal application.”
With a standing-room-only crowd attending a Town Council meeting on April 4, Publix representatives outlined their plans to build a 31,000-square-foot supermarket, along with five other stores, on the parcel across from Fire Station No. 11.
Some opponents of the proposal said the plans Publix representatives put forth at the meeting differed from the upscale, boutique-style market previously presented to town officials.
Instead, the supermarket would be merely a smaller version of a typical Publix and anchor a strip mall, though the architectural design of the development would reflect a West Indies theme consistent with the Orchid area.
The tallest part of the building would be 32 feet, and the property would be extensively landscaped to create buffers that would screen the shopping area from adjacent neighborhoods.
Also, the Publix would face north – toward the Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club’s golf course – with the rear of the supermarket backing up to 510 and the parking lot in front.
The parcel on which Publix plans to build is entirely within Orchid’s town limits, but the site is immediately west of the southwest sector of Old Orchid, a 136-home, gated community located in unincorporated Indian River County.
Thus, residents of Old Orchid, along with those across the street in The Seasons at Orchid as well as other nearby communities, have no voice in the town’s decision.
Many of them, though, have expressed concerns that their community will be negatively impacted by the opening of a Publix-anchored strip mall, citing increased traffic on 510, noise emanating from the complex, security issues, stormwater management, aesthetics, the intrusive aura of parking-lot lighting and the potential damage to Jungle Trail done by shoppers seeking a shortcut.
“We want to be good neighbors,” Powers said earlier this spring, “but, ultimately, it’s the Town Council’s call.”
Stan Boling, the county’s community development director, agreed with Powers’ assessment, saying, “The County has no jurisdiction there.”
The County’s input would come only if the project requires changes to the traffic infrastructure, such as installing a signal and turning lane, along 510, locally known as Wabasso Road.
Boling suggested that opponents to Publix’s plan actively participate in the decision-making process by attending any relevant public hearings and expressing their concerns.